Taxi Drivers Continue To Fight Meters

Posted February 1, 2008 at 6:31pm

D.C. cabs intend to strike today in protest of the mayor’s plan to switch fares from a zone system to a meter system much like the one used in New York City.

The proposed change has proved controversial since it was first announced last year. But after much discussion, it is set to go into effect on April 6. Under the new system, passengers will be charged a base rate of $3 — down from the originally planned rate of $4 — and an additional fee determined by miles covered.

Ward 8 City Councilmember and former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry (D) is supporting the strike. Spokesman Andre Johnson said the meters don’t really benefit anyone but those who are taking short cab rides.

“Many people live in upper Northwest and work in Southeast and their only mode of transportation at night is a cab,” he said. “For those people, it’s going to change the fare about $4 or $5, and that’s a tremendous economic impact.”

According to Barry’s office, 85 percent to 90 percent of drivers plan to strike and will continue to do so once a week until Mayor Adrian Fenty grants them a meeting. Cab drivers also plan to strike on March 30, opening day for the Washington Nationals in their new baseball stadium.

MLK Memorial Gets Largest Private Gift Yet

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Inc. has received a $3 million donation, advancing the group’s effort to commemorate the civil rights leader on the National Mall.

The gift from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation marks the largest to date from a private group, the Memorial Foundation announced last week. Harry E. Johnson, the Memorial Foundation’s president and chief executive officer, gave figures indicating that the project is an estimated $1.2 million shy of the funds needed to begin construction, though the organization would not confirm that number.

The foundation did confirm that it is currently $10 million short of the $100 million needed for the entire project, including construction, administration and fundraising efforts.

Bill Line, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said that despite the fundraising achievement, it may take “months and months and months” for the project to gain approval from the National Capital Planning Commission, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the park service — the three main groups that regulate construction of monuments on the Mall.

But the Memorial Foundation still predicted construction would begin this spring.

The Kellogg Foundation’s decision to contribute to the project was somewhat unusual.

“We don’t usually fund bricks and mortar things, but we have,” said Sterling Speirn, the organization’s president. “The larger thing isn’t memorials, it’s promoting racial equity.”

— Alison McSherry and Jillian Bandes