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Allow me to clarify my earlier bit of reporting: When Mayor Adrian M. Fenty says there’s no deadline extension for cab drivers to install meters, well, there’s actually a deadline extension.

The mayor’s office handed out a press release this morning titled “District to Enforce May 1 Deadline for Taxi Meter System Conversion.” The release goes on to detail how that simply isn’t true. Yes, taximeters will be required come May 1, but there will be no meaningful enforcement until June 1. Warning tickets “displaying a $1,000 fine” will be issued during the month of May, but they don’t have to be paid.

“We intend to uphold the May deadline,” Fenty said this morning, before explaining how intention doesn’t exactly match reality: “Like anything else in our law, they will get a warning.”

So why not just push the deadline back to June 1 and get rid of this strange non-deadline deadline?

“There’s always some staggered implementation,” Fenty says.

Interim Attorney General Peter Nickles did say that if a driver is caught during May with an installed meter that he or she is not using, then in fact, that driver would be “susceptible to a fine.”

Just who will enforce the meter law? Taxi inspectors will be doing the bulk of the job, along with city police who will be doing “spot checks” (most likely, Nickles says, while taxis are parked at stands). Passengers can also narc on nonmetered cabs by phoning in the driver’s name, company, and license number to 202-645-6018 or e-mailing that info to dctc@dc.gov.

UPDATE, 12:15 P.M.: Sophistical press release is after the jump.

Government of the District of Columbia Executive Office of the Mayor

District to Enforce May 1 Deadline for Taxi Meter System Conversion

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Interim Attorney General Peter Nickles and DC Taxicab Commission Chairman Leon Swain announced that the District of Columbia will uphold the May 1 deadline that requires all taxicabs to switch from the current zone system to time and distance meters. The announcement follows the city’s victory in DC Superior Court ruling over a dispute filed by a group of cab drivers who opposed the switch. Fenty originally announced the city’s intent to convert the longstanding taxi zone system to time and distance meters on Oct. 17, 2007.

“We are heartened by the court’s validation of the city’s authority in this matter,” said Mayor Fenty. “We take seriously the deadlines laid out in the taxicab regulations and intend to enforce them, while making reasonable adjustments to encourage full compliance so that District taxi riders can look forward to a reliable and transparent taxi system.”

Drivers who do not meet the terms of the new regulations between May 1 and May 31 will receive a warning ticket displaying a $1,000 fine every time they are caught picking up riders without meters. Beginning June 1, taxicab drivers will no longer receive warnings and will be expected to pay the fine in full. Taxi inspectors will spot-check both meters in cabs as well as the technicians that install the meters. The Metropolitan Police Department will also be assisting taxi inspectors in ticketing.

The rates for the time and distance meters include a $3.00 flag drop rate and 25 cents for every one-sixth of a mile after the first sixth of a mile traveled. For every minute stopped in traffic or traveled under ten miles per hour, there will be a charge of 25 cents per minute. All other rates and surcharges, such as those for additional passengers and rush hour, will still apply. The maximum fare for all trips within the District is $19.00.

Passengers who wish to file a complaint against an unmetered cab should obtain the taxicab driver’s name, company and license number and report it to the DC Taxicab Commission at (202) 645-6018 or dctc@dc.gov.

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