Airports Board Weighs Mandates for Taxicabs

By Siew, Walden | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 4, 1998 | Go to article overview

Airports Board Weighs Mandates for Taxicabs


Siew, Walden, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority wants all taxicabs at Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports to have air conditioning and look sharp - no old clunkers allowed.

The 13-member board that oversees airport operations yesterday voted to draft standards for upgrading taxicabs, the results of which the public could see as early as this fall.

Reagan Airport has an open-cab system that permits any taxi to ferry passengers. Dulles has a closed system, with Washington Flyer cabs holding a service contract with the airports authority.

"National can be more flexible because we have Metro [subway service]. National is one of the biggest cab stands because it's so lucrative," said airports authority spokeswoman Tara Hamilton.

At Reagan Airport, about 2,000 taxi drivers hold $40 annual permits to use the airport's dispatch service, provided the cabs are "clean and safe," Ms. Hamilton said.

The authority wants to require more specific standards for the permit, such as air conditioning and radios, using a standard metered system, and limiting vehicles to about six to eight years old, General Manager James A. Wilding said after the board meeting yesterday.

George Crawford, general counsel for the D.C. Taxicab Commission, wants to improve service instead of changing standards. He said the commission already requires air conditioning and has an eight-year standard for its cabs.

"If you move to six years, the commission would have to look at the impact, because we would say we may have a concern. We're not sure how it would affect us," he said.

Given Washington Flyer's monopoly at Dulles, however, Mr. Crawford questioned the agreements that give cabdrivers more flexibility to pick up passengers in other jurisdictions.

The District has such "reciprocity agreements" with Fairfax County, Arlington County and Alexandria - whereby cabs can take passengers who arrange pickups from the different jurisdictions. …

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