Responding to public outcry about the original DC taxi rate proposal, Mayor Fenty lowered rates and eliminated several surcharges. The original proposal had a high “flag drop” fee, keeping the cost for short trips around the same range as it had been under the zone system, and retained extra charges for additional passengers (not present in NYC) and rush hour charges (which do exist in NYC).
According to testimony by Steven Sushner of DC Residents for Reasonable Taxi Fares before the Council, the city’s study concluded that the original $4 flag drop rate would have made trips 97 cents higher on average than the previous zone fares. Which means that lowering the fee to $3 brings the fares approximately in line with their previous levels. Even some cab drivers agree with lowering the flag drop rate.
The more interesting question is the per-passenger and rush hour charges. Without them, average cab driver revenue per trip will be lower than under the old zone system. On the other hand, being charged for each passenger is an annoying deterrent to splitting cabs with friends. Lower cab fares should encourage more people going out for entertainment downtown to walk or take public transportation, knowing they can get a cab home at an affordable price. If taxi ridership goes up as a result of this change, it’ll be better for drivers and passengers.