Taxis get Square in DC

Washington, D.C. has taken a step to help the city’s taxis remain relevant and compete with ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. As of August 31, 2017, all taxi drivers in the city will have to make the switch from the old meters we all know and hate to new digital meters with payments powered by Square.

By the end of the summer, all taxi drivers will be able to swipe your card the same way local coffee shops and food carts do, with a Square reader plugged into a smartphone or tablet. The city’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) has approved a few meter apps already that drivers can choose to use. Like ride-hailing apps, the new meters will allow for dynamic pricing for passengers who hail a cab from the curb.

Passengers will get fare estimates, GPS route tracking and electronic receipts, just like you would with Uber or Lyft. You won’t have a credit card stored in the app, though. You’ll have to swipe, tap or dip your card or phone to pay the fare using Square when the ride is concluded. You’ll also be able to tip the driver using the app, the same way you do when you pay with Square just about anywhere.

Washington, D.C. is the first city to transition to all digital meters, so it will be interesting to see if the convenience makes a dent in the rise of ride hailing-services there.