Today’s connected consumers demand choice, convenience and positive user experiences. These preferences are driving the vehicle-for-hire industry to rethink its business model. Recently, the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission (DCTC) shared its plans to incorporate new technologies and modernize its services. The following is a summary of DCTC’s plans.
DCTC has overhauled the agency and improved services to leverage rapidly evolving technologies and prepare the vehicle-for-hire industry to take advantage of new opportunities. The emerging technologies and growing on demand services are pushing this transformation. The Commission is specifically focused on providing high-quality service, improving safety, increasing options for accessibility and revising regulations to be more responsive to the industry circumstances of today and in the future.
“We began our modernization by listening carefully to what consumers, drivers, and companies are saying,” said DCTC Chairman Ernest Chrappah. “The feedback provided a framework for making improvements that we have achieved in recent months.”
To improve customer experiences, DCTC streamlined the public complaint business process to resolve issues in 30 days or less. The new DC Taxi App in public beta allows customers to hail available taxis or wheel chair accessible vehicles and pay with cash or credit cards. One project in the pilot stage includes digital meters to replace the legacy taximeter and provide seamless transactions for customers. Yet another project is the implementation of application program interfaces (APIs) to enable taxis and others to tap into expanded economic opportunities and enhance passenger experiences. An open API portal where third party developers can securely access a vast network of drivers and vehicles is an incentive to build new services for their apps or integrate taxis into their services.
DCTC has increased wheel chair accessible vehicles to more than 150 – exceeding the 2014 mandate. The District’s fleet now has one of the highest ratios of wheel chair accessible vehicles to total population among major U.S. cities. Taxis completed 88,401 paratransit trips in 2015 – saving the District nearly $1.4 million in subsidies and reducing transportation inequities for thousands of DC residents.
Other achievements include implementing grant programs that provided more than $600,000 to independent taxicab owners and companies to obtain wheelchair accessible vehicles, electric vehicles and implement a neighborhood van service. Workshops have been conducted for businesses that offer digital dispatch, including Uber, Lyft, Split, and Wheelz to learn more about agency regulations while sharing insight to their business models and operations. DCTC is also considering a new X-Class – a transportation service with zero upfront application fees for drivers, expedited licensing, the use of personal vehicles and low equipment costs.
In 2015, DCTC adopted regulations to reduce fines and to replace many fines with education requirements and warnings that encourage professional conduct by drivers without imposing excessive penalties. The agency completed an audit of businesses that provide credit card service for taxicabs – an important step to improving industry performance.
Looking ahead, DCTC is committed to building a new brand in a new era that better meets consumer needs in a fast-moving digital marketplace.