Source AP ©

Meter requirement excites Washington taxidrivers strike

Taxidrivers in the U.S. capital held a 24-hour strike Wednesday to protest the mayor's decision to require meters in cabs.

At the city's train station, a dispatcher called out destinations to encourage people to share the scarce taxicabs, as unlicensed drivers trolled the back of the line for potential passengers. At downtown hotels, doormen said they were steering more of their business to limousine companies to fill the gap.

It was impossible to gauge exactly how many cab drivers were participating in the strike, but the head of one major taxi company said it was operating with just 25 percent of its fleet. Officials with the Taxicab Industry Group, one of several organizations representing drivers, had predicted a majority of the city's approximately 7,500 drivers would stay off the streets Wednesday.

Roy D. Spooner, general manager of Yellow Cab Co. of D.C., said most drivers affiliated with his company seemed to be taking part in the strike.

"We're at about 25 percent strength right now," he said.

Metro, the transit agency, said the subway would close at its usual time at midnight and had no plans to increase the number of trains.

William J. Wright, head of the Taxicab Industry Group and one of the strike's organizers, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

In the past, taxi drivers have said they oppose the switch to meters because they fear it will make long rides more expensive and lead to a loss of business. They have also said it will make it easier for big companies to dominate the business, forcing out many independent operators.