DC Taxis, Future. Future, DC Taxis.

Photo courtesy of
‘Every taxi needs this!’
courtesy of ‘K. Todd Storch’


Am I living in a dream world? Are DC taxi cabs really about to come into the 21st century by offering real credit card payments? First, let’s review the current process for those of us who try to pay for a ride around the city with plastic. After the jump, of course. You won’t regret it.

  • 1. Try and determine if the cab has a VISA sticker on the outside.
  • 2. Get in the cab and tell the driver first that you have to use a card and risk being told that they don’t accept cards. OR wait until payment time comes and risk being told that “it don’t work” and is magically broken today.
  • 3. Threaten to simply not pay for the ride or to report them to the taxi cab authority (which I doubt would accomplish much).
  • 4. After they begrudgingly agree to take your card, they take no less than 4-5 minutes to find a pen and start to fill out the little form. This often requires you to tell them how much you want to tip before they have even run your card.
  • 5. NOW the fun begins. They then pull out the 1980’s style, absolutely archaic slider machine that creates a carbon copy of your card info by manually moving a heavy piece of metal and plastic over the top of it several times (and they usually do is lots of times just for effect).
  • 6. Next is time for them to hand you the form and your card…and for them to drop the pen. Once they’ve found the pen again, you can sign the form. Sometimes, if you are lucky, they even ask for your phone number so they can call you if “they have any problems”.

In some cabs, they will actually swipe your card through their meter computer. But, as far as I can tell, this does nothing but store your card info for historical purposes because even when they do that, they still go through the full 6 step process of payment hell listed above. From meter stoppage to cab exitage, this process can take approximately FOREVER.

There is most certainly a God because WaPo is reporting that touchscreen card swipey machines (with room for non-profit advertisements, etc on a video screen) are being installed in the BACK of a few hundred cabs as we speak. Not quite as cool as the wicked fun NYC cabs, but this is coming a tremendously long way. This will…wait for it…allow you to swipe your own card, enter the tip on the touchscreen, and GO. OMG, I am so freaking pumped about this. We are? Living the future.

Karl is a Washingtonian who lives and breathes everything that is DC. Politics, ethnic restaurants, sad sports teams, the Metro and pretty much anything in between. Karl’s life is kind of like going to a Nats’ game while eating Ethiopian food and discussing the latest legislation to pass the House. Then cramming on the Metro for a ride home. That ’bout sums it up. See why Karl loves DC or check him out on Twitter.

3 thoughts on “DC Taxis, Future. Future, DC Taxis.

  1. and i? LOVE THE FUTURE. especially since my bank is cash back at CVS. First one to get a picture of the DC cab swipey thing wins.

  2. Be careful what you wish for–credit card usage is the excuse cab drivers in other cities use an excuse for raising rates and tacking on many surcharges.

    Chicago now requires cab drivers to accept credit cards. When the requirement was first put in place, the flag pull rate was increased by 50%. Then a minimum fare was added. Now they want to add an additional $1.50 surcharge for credit card fees plus an extra .30 per mile. Credit cards are the excuse now for everything.