This afternoon, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced the details for the taxi meter transition. Anyone expecting major savings over zone rates might be in for a bit of a surprise: Under the proposal, the flag drop’s going to be $4, well above NYC’s $2.50. The mileage rate, however, is $.25 for one-sixth of a mile (NY is $.40 per one-fifth), in a nod to what was the essential balance of the zone system: short trips makes less economic sense than long trips.

Press release after jump.

Fenty Announces Taxi Meter Regulations

Washington, DC – Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and DC Taxicab Commission Chair Leon Swain announced new regulations for the city’s more than 6,000 taxis after an October 17 decision to change from a 70-year old zone to a metered system. The new regulations will be subject to a 30-day comment period and will go into effect after 120 days requiring all taxis to be equipped with meters by April 1, 2008.

“Every passenger deserves a reliable fare system that they understand,” said Fenty. “These regulations will allow us to maintain our great taxi system while bringing transparency and clarity to the fare calculation process,”

The regulations outline the rates, meter specifications, installation and inspection of meters. The new rates for the metered system are based on a $4.00 base charge 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. All other rates and surcharges for additional passengers and rush hour will still apply.

“Our goal is to provide the best service possible to our customers,” said Swain. “These new regulations will give us the tools to provide the kind of service our customers have asked us for.”

The rules require the meters to be installed by licensed technicians. There are a number of technicians already located in the District that install meters for Maryland and Virginia taxicab drivers. The meters will be connected to the light on top of the cab allowing passengers to see if a taxi is available. The light will be illuminated when a taxi does not have a customer and will extinguish when a fare is activated on the meter.

Taxi inspectors will spot-check both meters in cabs as well as the technicians that install the meters. Taxi drivers will be fined $1,000 each time they are found to be non- compliant with the new regulations. The regulations were created after research and discussions about best practices with industry representatives, manufacturers, other cities and trade groups.