Most District residents probably care a lot less about D.C. cabs’ new dome lights than the vehicles’ credit card readers, but to taxis—-which can be impounded if they’re caught without the required head gear—-they matter a great deal.
The D.C. Taxicab Commission says 4,898 cabs have installed the dome lights, out of an estimated 6,500 licensed cabs in the city. If caught, the remaining vehicles face $250 fines in addition to any fees owed to towing companies.
The new standardized dome lights, whose signs have some variation of “TAXI FOR HIRE,” are intended to make it easier for prospective customers to determine if a cab is free or occupied.
But cab drivers say the installation process has been messy, and they shouldn’t be held accountable yet if they don’t meet regulations. The newly formed D.C. Taxi Operators Association filed a lawsuit against the city and commission this week, arguing the fines and impounding of vehicles should be delayed until there are enough dome lights available for installation.
Neville Waters, spokesman for the cab commission, says when new dome light regulations took effect on June 1, the price for the new fixture was between $150 and $200. But as the deadline to get them installed approached, demand increased, and prices skyrocketed to about $500.
The installation process for the credit card readers has faced even worse road blocks, with one company backing out of its commitment to install nearly 1,000 credit card readers.
Photo courtesy D.C. Taxicab Commission