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Pull out the plastic, D.C. cabs now take cards

Wednesday - 10/2/2013, 10:15pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- If a taxi rule falls during a government shutdown and in the midst of a major healthcare law launch, does the rule make a sound?

As of Sept. 30, all D.C. taxis are required to accept credit cards as payment for the fare. And nearly 90 percent of taxis in the active fleet have installed the new systems, according to the D.C. Taxicab Commission.

That means about 5,200 cabs in the District can accept cashless payments.

"That is a sufficient number that no one should have any difficulty hailing a taxicab," says Ron Linton, chairman of the commission.

Some drivers asked for another extension, but none has been given.

Drivers who haven't installed the modern taximeter system could be fined $1,000 and have their cars impounded.

"We've had 120 days that they could have gotten this done," Linton says of the new pay system.

Technical problems are not an excuse for denying credit card payments, he says.

"Under the regulations, when the machine malfunctions, they're to go to the service shop to have them correct it," Linton says. "No taxi should be operating with a malfunctioning credit card machine."

It is also a violation for drivers to tell passengers they must pay with cash.

By Nov. 1, D.C. taxis will be required to have new standardized dome lights installed. Those are designed to display a cab's availability.

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