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Taxicab regulators consider eliminating Zone 5A in SE
(Published December 1, 2003)

Staff Writer

In an effort to decrease the fares paid by persons traveling to and from the outlying zones of the District, the D.C. Taxicab Commission is considering a change in the taxicab rate map.

The proposed rate change is one of several controversial items on the agenda for the commissionís Dec. 2 meeting. The agenda also includes a challenge to the adequacy of the licensing test administered by the University of the District of Columbia and an executive session discussion regarding the competence of Chairman Lee Williams.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. in the community room at 2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE. A public hearing on the rate change is the last item of business on the agenda.

The proposed change to the rate map would collapse Zone 5A, encompassing the far southeast corner of the District, into zone 4H, the zone immediately to the north. This would save people traveling to and from the current 5A zone at least $1.10 every time they cross into the expanded 4H zone, because the current rate structure increases the fare for every zone boundary crossed.

Zone 5A is currently bordered by Atlantic Street, Valley Avenue and Wheeler Road to the north, Southern Avenue to the East, Oxen Run Creek to the South, and the Potomac River to the west.

"This is the only area that has an extra zone," explained Commissioner Theresa Nelson Travis. "If will be fairer for these residents in the Southeast who have to use cab transportation. Most of the residents already pay extra because they have to call a cab to come to themóthey canít just hail one on the street. So this will save them some money."

Travis said she thinks the proposal has the support of several commissioners and hopes that it will be approved.

Commissioner Sandra Seegars has put two topics on the agenda, one of which is the subject of a lawsuit she filed against the commission last month. She contends that the tests for a hackerís license are poorly put together and that the responses cited by the official answer key as "correct" are often wrong.

"The regulations say the Education Advisory Board has to review the test and work with the people at UDC who administer it to get good questions. Well, we reviewed 10 questions, and at least five were just flat-out wrong," said Seegars. "How can we expect drivers to be trained when we are giving them tests with the wrong information?"

Seegars, who serves on the Education Advisory Board, claims in her suit that the faulty tests continued to be administered after she and another colleague pointed out the problems with the questions. She therefore filed a suit for injunctive relief to stop the administration of the allegedly flawed tests. The case is scheduled for mediation.

"We have a real problem here, and Commissioner Williams just does nothing about it, as usual," said an irate Seegars. "Other commissioners always come and complain to me about Williams ó now we are going to have a session where they can tell him what they think. And if they donít ó well, itís put up or shut up time."

The executive session will not be open to the public.

Copyright 2003, The Common Denominator