One thing that should be noted about the DC cab market is that the zone system is byzantine and opaque, to the vast enrichment of the cabbies. I happen to live three steps north of U Street, which is the dividing line between zone one and zone two; I spend a lot of time doing elaborate kabuki rituals with the cabbies, who invariably try to drop me on whichever side of the street takes me into a second zone. My mission--and I always choose to accept it--is to force them to drop me on the zone-minimizing street side, without acknowledging that they are trying to cheat me.
Cabbies also charge an additional full fare for multiple stops, making it completely pointless to ride share, and otherwise take the average consumer for all he is worth. Cabs cost here twice or more what they cost in New York for all but a handful of special journeys--funnily enough, the ones that are frequently taken by congressmen and their staffers.
It's very clearly a system set up to help a semi-organized interest groups rook the tourists at the expense of the locals; but as more affluent and politically active people who take a lot of cabs move into the district, this was bound to change. So I'm not surprised that the cabbies are complaining; only that they have settled on the big cab companies as the source of their complaint with the meter system.
Frankly, I'm not terribly sympathetic. They can damn well cheat tourists by accidentally taking them from Capitol Hill to the Mall via the Beltway, like all the other cab drivers have to. What makes them think they're so special, anyway?
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