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Get To Know Washington's Cab System

Review by: Leslie  Yezerinac

Taxi Finder

District of Columbia

Comfort Cab Assn :
Tel : 202.636-1600

DC Flyer Radio Taxi :
Tel : 202.488-4400

Diamond Cab Co :
Tel : 202.387-6200

DC Flyer Radio Taxi :
Tel : 202.488-4400

DC Flyer Radio Taxi :
Tel : 202.488-4400

Mayflower Cab Co :
Tel : 202.783-1111

Montgomery County

Barwood Taxi :
Tel : 301.984-1900

Fairfax County

Dulles Taxi Sedan :
Tel : 703.450-0045

Arlington County

Yellow Cab :
Tel : 703.522-2222

More Listings Click Here

Understanding the Zone

diamondYou're in a hurry and the Metrobus is late, you don't want to drive, because parking is such a chore, and no, you aren't lucky enough to have your own limo. What to do? Walk? No, of course not! Try one of Washington DC' s 88 independently owned taxicab companies employing over 6200 drivers. Being a Washingtonian without her own car, cab rides have been real time-savers for me. Taxi rides have put me in touch with some very colorful cabbies. I've shared rides with White House staff to kind old grandmas well-versed in D.C. lore. Once an eccentric cabbie even attempted to bargain the purchase of my unusual earrings for $500! However, before you ride, let me help you decipher our District's cryptic taxicab system.

Zone History

According to D.C. Taxicab Commissioner, George Crawford, the DC government created the taxi zone system in 1931, which is quite unique among the nation's major cities. District cab Drivers challenged the zones as discriminatory in 1932, and they contended the zone system didn't correspond miles to fares the way metered fares do. However, in 1933 Congress placed an additional clause in the DC budget prohibiting the District government from allotting funds toward metered cabs.

In 1986, when the Taxicab Commission came into existence, the clause banning metered cabs was dropped, but due to political reasons the Commission rules out any chance of switching to meters in the near future.

Zone Pricing


While cabs in VA and MD operate on a metered system of charging, Washington's cabs determine fares by the zone system. Zone divisions start from the heart of North-West Washington, which constitutes Zone 1 bounded by U St., Florida Ave., 2nd St., E St., and 22nd St. From there, the 8 zones and their 23 subzone divisions radiate outward in a semi-circular arrangement. Since the mileage covered by the radiating zones increases, subzones divide zones to better correspond fares to mileage.

You can alleviate your zone anxieties by noting you won't watch your money tick away on a cab. s meter as you sit in traffic. Instead, the zone system operates on a law of averages. If your cab ride is confined to Zone 1 or a subzone of Zones 2 thru 8, you. ll only pay the base fare of $4.00. Crossing subzone or zone borders incurs an additional charge of approximately $1.50 for each additional border.

Based on this pricing system, some trips you can travel a good distance all within the boundaries of a single zone for a cheap $4.00. On the down side, other trips can be shorter yet cross a zone border for an additional charge. Based on the District's law of averages, all your trips over a period of time should even out to the equivalent cost of metered fares. Often, fares governed by the zone system work out less.

Save Money

Try hailing a taxi in a well-traveled location before you consider calling. Because, there. s a $1.00 charge for radio-dispatched cabs.

If your destination is just a short walk beyond a zone change, simply request your cab driver to drop you off prior to crossing the street that determines the new zone. Note that zone borders cut down the center of a street, so one side will be in a different zone from the other.

There are several other ways cabbies can add surcharges. During rush hours (7am-9:30am and 4pm-6:30pm), your driver will add an extra $1.00 to the fare. For more than one grocery bag or suitcase per person, there. s a $0.50/piece addition, and larger objects will cost $2.00. Drivers add $1.50 onto the base fare for each additional passenger going to the same destination with you. Cabs can double the fare during snow emergencies.

Travel Tips

A little planning and clear communication will make your cab journeys all the easier. Some tips to keep in mind:

Should you have trouble with a cab driver's inflated fare, don't start an argument, but do request an ID number and the phone number of the cab company. Most times, the idea of your contacting management will cause the cabbie to abandon insistence on a fare that's too high.

Maximize your cab-hailing chances by standing on street corners where you can catch cabs traveling through intersections in 2 directions. Also look for cabs from popular, well-traveled spots, like hotels, where cabs wait for fares.

Remember taxicabs have the right to pick up other fares while transporting you. If the other passenger is going in a direction similar to yours, they can take them. However, upon entering your cab, if you're under a crucial time constraint, don't hesitate to request your cabbie drive only you. Ultimately, a considerate cabbie will ask your permission to pick up other fares, but extra cash often beats consideration.

Tipping is a matter of personal preference, and you are not required to tip should you endure a poor ride.

Remember, just as when you're in a car, you're also required to buckle up while riding in a cab. Because many cabs are older model cars equipped with only waist seat belts in the back seats, you may feel more secure riding in front seats, which have shoulder harnesses.

If you want to catch a ride to Maryland and Virginia use a DC cab company. Although many VA and MD based cabs do stop for DC passengers, technically they are not supposed to because those rides are considered jobs for DC cab drivers.

diamondMany cab drivers are good-natured Washingtonians who have a wealth of history and information, which they willl gladly share with you. Also, you may hire some drivers to take you and guests on sightseeing tours of DC. Try calling Diamond Cab or Yellow Cab for these services. These are two companies are very reliable for calling radio-dispatched cabs. If you are in Virginia, Red Top Cab is reliable, and it's one of the most consistent for offering clean, new cabs.

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