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DC Taxi Switch, Good or Bad? June 27, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Life, News.
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The taxi situation has taken some time for most people to digest. It has been almost a month since the city switched all of the District of Columbia taxi cabs over from a zone system to a time-distance meter system.

During this time, I have asked my friends what they think of the change. I also asked the cabbies!

A pretty good number of the drivers, actually almost half (yes, I kept a record of this) feel it was a positive change. One cab-driver actually said, “Making the system honest has actually made me more money. I love it.” Many cab-drivers say that within the city, there is moderate change – but nothing noteworthy. One said, “I’ve received more fares since the change, which means I make more money.”

Generally, the business is not so different that cab-drivers are having to file bankruptcy any time soon.

Overall, compliance with installing meters ended up going fairly smoothly.

One area that drivers dislike is traveling outside Washington. Long trips out to Virginia now cost a lot less. It was something the cab-drivers and the DC Taxi Commission expected to happen.

The DCTC says, “There no longer is not real incentive to going all the way out to Dulles Airport. Going to Dulles now run at least $20 less than they used to.”

But there is one area that drivers and passengers agree continues to be a source of confusion and mistrust similar to what things were like under the zone system: group cab rides.

In other major cities with taxis that use meters (Philadelphia, New York, etc.), if two friends share a cab headed in the same direction but request separate stops, the meter starts when they enter the cab together and continues to run on the same fare after the first person exits. The second passenger is responsible for the full fare at the end of the ride, so it’s up to them to collect money from their friend who they dropped off. This sort of system encourages people to share cabs who are heading in the same direction. But that’s not the way the new meter system works in the District of Columbia.

The way D.C.’s meter rules are written, when two people enter the same cab and ask for two stops, the driver is supposed to turn the meter off when the first person exits, charge them for the full fare up to that point, and then restart the meter with a brand new $3 drop fee before embarking on the second leg of the trip. The driver is also currently entitled to charge a $1 emergency gas surcharge for both segments.

To add to the confusion, normally when two people ride in the same cab, the driver is allowed to charge an additional passenger fee of $1.50. D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Leon Swain tells DCist that drivers are not supposed to charge that additional fee if they have agreed to make two stops and charge two different fares, but according to passengers we’ve spoken to, many drivers are charging it anyway.

The additional passenger fee trouble for groups of more than two can be even worse: Say three people share a cab, with one of them getting out at the first stop, and two getting out at the second. The driver is legally allowed to charge a $3 drop free and a $1 gas surcharge for the first leg of the trip, and then a $3 drop fee, a $1 gas surcharge, and an extra passenger fee of $1.50 for the second leg. But confused drivers may end up charging the additional passenger fee for the first leg of the trip, or they may charge two additional passenger fees, with the result that sharing a metered cab home with a friend or two at the end of the night can be just as confusing, if not more so, than the zone system. In many cases, it may be cheaper for a group to split up into separate cabs, even if their destinations are relatively close together.

When Mayor Adrian Fenty and D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Leon Swain first announced that the city had decided to make the switch to meters, they said they were doing so because they wanted the system to be more transparent, for residents to no longer worry they were being cheated, and that it didn’t make sense that the D.C. taxi system was unlike any other. The rules for group rides as they are written continue the tradition of the District’s old zone system by charging separate base fares and additional fees for each leg of a group trip. Confused passengers have for the last month found themselves once again arguing with D.C. taxi drivers over whether these kinds of fares are fair and legal.

“We knew we had to go back and do some tweaking,” Swain said. “We’ve gone from horse and buggies to space ships, as far I’m concerned, in 30 days.”

Whether changes to group taxi ride rules will come about is up to the nine-member Commission.

Sputtering Germans v Giant-Killing Spaniards June 26, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Uncategorized.
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n Basel, Switzerland something magical happened to some, while the world came crumbling down around others.  The Turkish National Futbol  Team will be remembered for its great escapes.  They squeezed by some worthy opponents.  They didn’t have what it took to get past the German National Futbol Team.

Germany, the team that everyone thought at one time was dead, showed that the historic team had just enough to beat the Turks – just barely.

In the last twelve minutes of the match, three goals were cast. The German team sputtered throughout the match, but managed to score the final goal to put their side ontop.  In the 90th minute Philipp Lahm scored.will have t

Now, the Germans o up their game against the unlikely Spaniards.  That’s right Spain!

Spain has become the unlikely darlings of the Euro Cup.  The Spanish defeated the Italians in a Euro Cup – the first time in 80 years.  They simply dismantled the strong Russian team.

Vienna will be alive with passion:  GERMANY v SPAIN.

The win on Wednesday was an emotional one for the Germans.  The Chelsea player and German star captain Michael Ballack proved to be pretty ineffective.

Those Turks weren’t out of it – even when they were down.  They managed late wins against Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Croatia. comp

Turkey completely dominated Germany for most of the match.

Germany looked bleak, failed to impose play against a heavy underdog and looked disheveled early on. Yet, when the final whistle went, their arms went up in celebration.

Miroslav Klose seemingly closed out the match for Germany in the 79th minute. Lahm sent a long cross into the penalty area, where Klose cut in front of Mehmet Topal and a hopelessly out of position Rustu Recber to head into the empty net.

Semih Senturk kept Turkey in the game with an 86th-minute equalizer. He beat Jens Lehmann at the near post after surging in to deflect a low cross from Sabri Sarioglu, who had fooled Lahm with a classy move.

With the Turkish fans celebrating wildly, Lahm immediately sought and found redemption to decide the game. He cut in from the left, set up a one-two with Thomas Hitzlsperger, collected the ball and shot it past Recber to unleash the joy of about 20,000 German fans at St. Jakob Park.

In the first half, Ugur Boral gave Turkey the lead in the 22nd, but Bastian Schweinsteiger equalized in the 26th.

Turkey dominated long spells of the match despite four suspensions and five injuries, proving its run of extraordinary comeback victories was no fluke.

During the last World Cup, the German team captured hearts with an all-out offensive style that took the  team to a third-place finish.  This go-round, you’d have to wonder where that team is now.

Germany’s fun ride through the World Cup brought millions of fans to party in the streets and gave the national team somewhat of a cult status. The entire experience is known in Germany as the “Summer Fairy Tale,” which was also the title of a popular documentary.

Some say the German team was showing it’s true colours by displaying their stamina, commitment and efficiency. ‘m still waiting for the German team of old.

There was little flair in the German performance, which is normal.  They have normally been the type of team that will fight until the end, and I can say I saw that.

Germany has displayed a mystifying inconsistency in its play at the championship.

It began with a strong 2-0 win over Poland, but then fell into disarray in a 2-1 loss to Croatia.

It advanced to the quarterfinals by laboring to a 1-0 victory over hapless Austria.

Its 3-2 win over Portugal was its best game by far, only to be followed by the plodding effort against Turkey.

In the Germany v Turkey match, 500,000 in Germany were estimated to have watched in Berlin’s “fan mile” strip that was also used during the World Cup.

The good thing for Germany is there is no set formula for success at the European Championships.

It can be won with flair and style like France in 2000 or Holland in 1988, with boring yet ruthlessly efficient defense like Greece in 2004 or with teamwork and a sense of destiny like Denmark in 1992.

Now go watch some futbol and support your local club.

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