You’d be forgiven for being skeptical after so many delays, but the D.C. Taxicab Commission voted today to require that all D.C. cabs install the equipment to accept credit card payments by Aug. 31. For real this time.

But it’s not all good news for passengers: The new meters will also come with a $0.25 base fare increase, making it $3.25 instead of $3.00. The commission also voted to allow drivers to charge $1 for each extra passenger.

The Taxicab Commission press release:

The DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC) voted today to require all DC taxis to accept credit cards and other forms of non-cash payments. The rulemaking approved for publication to establish the Modern Taximeter System (MTS) is expected to become effective on May 31, 2013.

Installation of MTS is projected to begin June 1, 2013 and all taxis should be equipped with the appropriate equipment by August 31, 2013. In addition to offering an enhanced customer service experience, MTS will provide DCTC with valuable data and driver verification. The $0.25 passenger surcharge to support DCTC programs, enforcement actions and administrative services will also be collected by MTS.

The MTS regulations provide some assistance to offset any costs associated with implementing MTS. The Commission is authorizing an additional passenger fee of $1.00 for more than one rider; however all other extra charges – except the Snow Emergency Fee and Telephone Dispatch Fee – have been eliminated. The flag drop rate will also increase from $3.00 to $3.25.

Personal Information Monitors (PIMs) that will offer news, local current events, public service announcements and possibly advertising will be installed by December 1, 2013. Safety mechanisms will be added by June 1, 2014.

The Commission prepared a “Determination and Findings” document that outlines the depth of research and analysis underlying the MTS regulations. Included among the conclusions are the rationale for reducing the passenger surcharge from $0.50 to $0.25; the sharing of the $0.25 with drivers to alleviate the cost to transition to MTS while not increasing the cost to riders more than expected; the projection that driver revenue will increase by 2% to 4% after costs for MTS and the new dome light; and the MTS must take into account the needs of disabled passengers to ensure access to the cashless system. The technical considerations ensure that vehicle owners and drivers, digital reservation services and payment service providers, all have crucial roles in the industry and must fit together with the MTS similarly to an ecosystem.

Photo courtesy D.C. Taxicab Commission