- The Washington Times - Monday, February 20, 2012

Baseball fans who would rather see pitcher Drew Storen close out a win for the Washington Nationals than beat the final-inning rush from the stadium will notice a major change to one of their postgame transit options this season.

The D.C. Taxicab Commission will allow so-called “shared riding” outside Nationals Park to manage the chaotic jumble of pedestrians who leave in search of taxis and sometimes engage in what the agency calls “aggressive behavior.”

“People would run out into the street when they saw a cab,” commission Chairman Ron Linton said of past seasons. “You could tell somebody was going to get hit by a car at some time.”

The commission says shared riding, in which separate groups of passengers may get in the same taxicab if they are heading the same way, is needed to quell disorder and stop the use of unlicensed cabs from surrounding areas that are “illegally pilfering” fares from the District’s licensed drivers.

Under the new rule, people who want a cab must get in line at a taxi stand near the intersection of M and South Capitol streets, Mr. Linton said. The line will run westward on the side north side of M Street.

Mr. Linton said the spot will be the only place fans can get a cab near the stadium. The commission also is instituting a pre-game drop off spot for cabs at M and Van streets Southeast.

The commission passed the rule on an emergency basis, so it will be in effect in time for the Nats’ first regular-season home game April 12. Mr. Linton said the commission will have the benefit of seeing the plan in action for weeks before having to renew the regulations.

In shared riding, passengers pay the fare whenever one passenger gets out at a destination. The meter is reset and the pattern continues until the last passenger pays the remaining fee for his or her trip.

The first passengers to get into the cab determine the direction of the trip, and additional passengers’ destinations should be in that general direction if they want to ride in the vehicle. Passengers have the right to refuse sharing their rides, according to published rules.

Mr. Linton said the method should move out a large congregation of fans at a quicker rate while providing quality fares to drivers.

Regulations say a “starter” who manages the taxi stand will determine when each taxicab should depart but cannot unreasonably delay the taxi’s departure just to fill it with more passengers.

Nationals Park joins Union Station and the Verizon Center - home to concerts, the Washington Wizards basketball team and Washington Capitals hockey team - as the only places in the District that allow shared riding.

Starters at the new M Street stand will be employed by the Nationals and trained by starters who work outside Union Station, Mr. Linton said.

The District Department of Transportation is responsible for signs at the taxi stand, and the taxicab commission’s inspectors will monitor the site.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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