Courtesy of DFHV
Courtesy of DFHV

When it comes to developing innovative transportation strategies and providing customers more convenient, comfortable and safe access to rides, the D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles regards itself as a global leader.

To that end, the department’s aggressive strategy over the past two years has aimed to be a model for forward-thinking governments adopting plans to treat transportation as a service.

“We are a disruptor of the status quo,” said DFHV Director Ernest Chrappah. “I know that sounds strange coming from someone who works for a government agency that is a regulator. Well, welcome to a new day. The Department of For-Hire Vehicles has moved on well beyond the image of the D.C. Taxi Commission. DFHV is a nimble, enabler of change, that is creating new economic opportunities.”

Chrappah, who was recently named International Regulator of the Year by the International Association of Transportation Regulators, said that reinventing modes of transportation is critical component for promoting job growth and entrepreneurship and reducing carbon emissions.

D.C. currently ranks among the world’s top cities that are using mobile apps, data analytics, application program interfaces and electric vehicles to create new shared modes of transportation, including car sharing, bike sharing, microtransit and paratransit.

While some cities are evaluating plans to roll out electric vehicles, DFHV awarded $400,000 in grants to help 57 drivers and companies make the transition to electric vehicles. DFHV also added two rapid charging stations in D.C. to address drivers’ concerns.

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and 30 other cities have approached automakers on the feasibility to produce more than 114,000 electric vehicles to serve as police cruisers, street sweepers and trash trucks. London is aiming to have 75 rapid chargers operational and providing 7,500 pounds sterling off the purchase of new electric taxis.

Meanwhile, DFHV, which is rolling out its “Evolution of the Ride” marketing strategy, is also facilitating innovation with progressive regulations to allow companies to move away from antiquated meter systems that require constant maintenance to install digital meter systems.

In addition, the agency is expanding the city’s paratransit services to reduce the average cost of rides for the city’s elderly and physically disabled and to take advantage of underutilized vehicles. Loyalty programs are also being introduced to reward frequent riders with discounts and free rides.

“The evolution of the ride is all about convenience and providing customers an excellent ridership experience regardless of the type of vehicle chosen,” Chrappah said. “The innovative programs that will be in place will revolutionize the rider experience to the point where they will not have a need to own a car. People will get to where they need to go — faster, cheaper, better and with less stress. In the end, the District of Columbia wins.”

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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