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PSC orders Baltimore cabs to accept credit cards

The Maryland Public Service commission has ordered cabs operating in Baltimore and Baltimore County to install equipment allowing customers to pay with debit and credit cards.

The order to install equipment to accept payment via cards and print receipts in the rear seat was announced by the commission on Tuesday. Cab companies were also ordered to upgrade meters and provide more accurate data required for commission oversight.

A request to increase current fares and charges was rejected by the commission because it decided there was not enough accurate information from cabs to justify an increase.

Companies will have to install the equipment accepting credit and debit cards, as well as enhanced meters in cabs by Dec. 31, 2014. Yellow Cab of Baltimore expressed concern about the request to install new meters, especially if they have to be installed quickly, and asked for a nine-month period to make the changes. But in its decision the commission disagreed.

“We do not find that the relatively small cost of the meters, printers, and rear seat payment systems presents a burden to taxicab owners,” the commission’s decision reads.

The new meters in the cabs will be able to produce extractable operating statistics, post flat fares and extras such as mileage outside the city and county and print aggregate stored statistics.

The commission also ordered that cab companies could not pass along the expense of adding the new equipment to drivers.

It also ordered staff to investigate the number of operating permits are in active use. There are currently 1,151 permits in Baltimore — 77 have been revoked — and 297 in Baltimore County. Taxi associations are also supposed to report all affiliated permits and staff are directed to revoke any unaffiliated permits.

Because most drivers are independent contractors leasing cabs from permit holders, the commission also directed associations to file a report on all leases so the terms of the agreements can be reviewed by the commission.