MIAMI (CBSMiami) — If you have taken a cab in Miami-Dade county, chances are you had to pay the fare with cash. Wednesday afternoon that changed. Miami-Dade commissioners overwhelmingly voted on sweeping reforms that changes even the cars that are picking you up.
It’s what we use to buy gas, at restaurants, groceries just about anything. You can use your credit card just about anywhere. While most metropolitan cities accept cards, Miami-Dade hasn’t, until now. Credit card machines will now be required in all cabs in 2 years.
Sunpass must also be installed in the cabs in the next six months.
An ambassador program will also be unveiled at the ports requiring drivers to have a dress code along with newer cars.
Drivers will be required to buy three-year old cars instead of the current 5-year-old models. They will have until June 2014 to update their cars.
They will also have open doors for passengers.
“Must have a Sunpass device. They must open doors for passengers. They must unload and load luggage, cannot refuse to accept credit card payment, cannot discharge a passenger before the passengers destination,” said Chairwoman Rebecca Sosa of the Miami-Dade Commission.
While most passengers would agree these are all good things, it’s taken years to get here because it’s not as simple as it sounds.
“This is technology. It is going to go down. Your computer goes down all the time. Your internet doesn’t work sometimes. There is going to be issues that affect the industry,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime.
To add to that, cab drivers who are against the reforms are pitted against cab owners who are for it.
A CBS4 Special investigation in November revealed drivers are sometimes spending 16 hours on the road, often sleeping in their cars, barely surviving. Driver Miguel Lantigua’s 5:00 a.m. to 9 o’clock day yielded a whopping three and half dollars an hour.
Lantigua was back in front of commissioners Wednesday feeling defeated.
“ It seems like they didn’t address the taxi cab drivers. They listen to the people who got the money,” said Lantigua.
Meanwhile, taxi owners believe the drivers have nothing to fear.
“I think that South Florida cab drivers will learn what most cab drivers have learned around the nation. You make better money with charge cards. You make better tips, you’re more available,” Diego Feliciano of the SFTA.
CBS4’s David Sutta asked, “In your opinion will taxi cabs in Miami-Dade County be better after today?”
“I don’t think so. I think it’s going to be worse after today, because there is going to be a lot of drivers who won’t be able to drive because they cannot afford, ” responded Lantigua.
“I would think that the obvious answer to that is yes, very much so. We are way over due for technology,” said Feliciano.