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DC Taxicab Commission Announces New Technical Enhancements

Thursday, August 21, 2014
New initiatives will improve efficiency and operational procedures

Contact: Neville Waters (202) 645-6020

The DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC) today announced new initiatives to improve customer service and enhance the efficiency of operations including the inauguration of a 5-day commercial driver licensing process and the capability to text message taxis in real time to summon service for large numbers in need of rides. Other enhancements are the transition of MetroAccess patients to standard taxicab service and the installation of safety devices for passengers and drivers.

The five-day licensing process will begin on October 1, 2014 to enable a person to walk in, provide the appropriate documentation and take the public vehicle for hire driver exam. The applicant upon a passing score is received the applicant will go to DCHR to submit fingerprints and undergo a complete FBI background check. If the background report is clean the person will within five days of filing their application pick up their commercial driver license. Through the cooperation of DCHR this process will take no more than five days.

Additionally, DCTC will establish of a system that allows text messages to taxis in the street by alerting to service needs for large numbers of riders in a specific area. This will enable taxis to respond more rapidly to high volume circumstances such as concerts, large events and special activities that attract significant crowds seeking rides around the same time. A venue must first register at the DCTC web site to be qualified to communicate through a central channel to submit a request for service. The system is being tested and will be fully operational by October 1, 2014.

The Coordinated Alternative to Paratransit Services (CAPS-DC) pilot program to transport qualified MetroAccess dialysis patients by standard taxis will begin October 1, 2014. CAPS-DC will improve the quality of service for participants who will be able to book a taxi one hour prior to pick up rather than reserving a ride a day ahead. Travel will be direct without multiple stops. The cost to participants will remain unchanged and companions may accompany participants for no additional charge. District taxpayers will save up to $1.8 million in the first year of operation through a reduction in the District government subsidy for MetroAccess. An additional benefit of the CAPS program is the requirement for participating taxi companies to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) for every 3,000 trips through CAPS. DCTC expects 60 to 65 WAVs to be added to the District’s fleet during the first year of this pilot program.

The installation of a safety device for both drivers and passengers to alert the appropriate personnel – police, medical, or DCTC enforcement staff - of an emergency situation that needs an immediate response is targeted for completion no later than June, 2015. In coordination with the upgrades to the Taxicab Information System (TCIS) other improvements include the ability for deeper analysis of trip data to better understand service patterns that will assist with policy making and setting rates.

DCTC recently introduced proposed regulations to encourage a more rapid transition to fuel efficient WAVs. The current Vehicle Modernization Program mandates that by 2018 no taxis will be more than seven model years old. The proposed incentives would allow vehicle owners to extend the service life of taxis that are fuel efficient and wheelchair accessible with an objective to achieve 100% of the District’s taxicab fleet to be fuel efficient WAVs by 2020. Also, new associations that commit to use fuel efficient WAVs by a date certain would be allowed to form.