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Washington, D.C., Taxi Passengers can Soon Pay by Credit Card

Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

January 24, 2013

Washington, D.C., Taxi Passengers can Soon Pay by Credit Card

By Ed Silverstein
TMCnet Contributor

By April Fools’ Day, taxicabs in Washington, D.C., will be offering all passengers the opportunity to pay by credit card.

On March 30, the district’s taxicabs will have the technology in place to accept credit cards, according to new regulations. This was put in place instead of the rejected goal of getting smart meters in the city’s cabs in time for this week’s second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The district’s Contract Appeals Board blocked a $35 million contract with VeriFone Systems to install the technology in 6,500 cabs. The contract was challenged by competitors to VeriFone.

“Instead of a mandating a single system to be used by all cabs, individual taxi owners will now have a choice of which credit card system to use,” according to a report from The Washington Post. “As for the other features of the proposed smart meter system — including an interactive screen, GPS navigation and ‘panic buttons’ to hail authorities — those will be included in a new procurement.”

A wider selection of technology has become available because technology has changed rapidly. New technology gives users the option to use credit card services, electronic reservations and other options. Also, some providers offer free equipment, but charge for transactions.

The new policy in Washington, D.C., will also mean the district will have technology in cabs similar to what’s offered in other key cities.

Apps can be downloaded, as well, in several locations for taxi service. Last month, New York City decided to experiment with passengers and taxi drivers connecting them through smartphone apps, after a bumpy trial period for one of the providers: Uber. Uber has been the subject of legal actions and strong debate in several metropolitan regions.

“The crux of the [New York City] controversy has been Uber’s decision to connect directly with individual drivers, and setting up its own pricing rather than working through existing cab companies under standard cab rules,” Wired reported about the New York City issue.

Last month, the city council in Washington, D.C., allowed Uber – and other “digital dispatch" companies to provide taxi service, beyond the towncar service already offered, TMCnet reported. These companies may have to provide fare estimates to passengers, and will be under other regulations.

The company is happy with new regulations in New York and Washington, D.C.

“Just like in (Washington,) DC …, this (New York) victory came from everything loyal Uber customers and fans in New York and around the country did,” Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber Technologies, said in a blog post. “You made your voices heard in the media and via Twitter (News - Alert), Facebook and e-mail.”

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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