What does D.C. now have in common with Chicago, San Francisco and Boston? Taxi riders in the D.C. area can now pay fares using credit card machines installed in the backseats of some taxi cabs.[Barwood Taxi](http://barwoodtaxi.com/barwood.htm) is the first to offer the machines in the District.

“Self-swipe readers, which are new in the taxi industry, have become popular in retail and restaurants because they’re convenient, and people have greater peace of mind when the card stays in their hand,” said Lee Barnes, president and chief executive officer of the 49-year-old Barwood Taxi company, in a press release.

According to the press release, Barwood Taxi said it has installed the VeriFone Transportation Systems Passenger Information Monitors in 200 taxis and plans to place them in all 435 of its taxis by the end of the year. Barwood Taxi’s decision to install these devices is part of a national trend that first started in New York City and has spread to eight major U.S. cities. Before the installation of these self-swipe devices, taxi companies usually required that passengers using credit cards call in advance to give their card information.

With the new system, passengers are able to make payments themselves, with credit card transactions taking about three seconds to complete. The system accepts all major credit cards, as well as check cards, and uses wireless networks similar to those used by smartphones, according to Peter Bartolik, media relations contact for VeriFone.

“Passing the card back and forth can be a time-consuming hassle. Our new monitors make paying fares simple and efficient, allowing both passengers and drivers to move on with their days more quickly,” Barnes said.

In addition to reducing credit card hassle, the machines enable passengers to view entertainment and directory information as well as other multimedia content on the monitors, Bartolik said.

“Our applications support extensions to integrate information from multiple sources. This includes the ability to provide streaming updates on weather, news, entertainment and public service announcements,” Bartolik said.

In the press release, Barwood Taxi said it would introduce paid advertising, giving marketers the opportunity to reach an estimated 210,000 customers.

VeriFone approached Barwood Taxi last October. Barwood Taxi, which provides 1.9 million rides annually, tested the machines in April and started installing them in May. VeriFone covers the cost of the device and Barwood pays $100 for installation.

Alfred LaGasse, chief executive officer of the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association, welcomes this new development for taxis in the Washington area.

“It is a tremendously valuable service to both the customer and the taxicab driver,” LaGasse said. “For the customer, it makes payment extremely easy, and for the taxi cab driver it means having to carry less cash, and eventually no cash at all. So taxicabs with these systems installed should be far less likely to be the target of a crime.”

Feedback from taxi drivers on these new devices has been positive and the TLPA will be encouraging its members to consider this device. LaGasse said it will most likely come up at the TLPA national convention in early October.

“We always encourage practices that make for a better, more comfortable, more efficient and safer experience, both for the customer and for the taxicab driver,” LaGasse said. “As the oldest and largest national association for this industry, this is exactly the kind of thing we share with our members, and which our members share with one another.”

Georgetown student Alejandro Marquez (SFS ’10) welcomes the machines because they will make taking a cab easier, especially when one has only a credit card as a form of payment.

“This would be extremely convenient for taking taxi cabs and could potentially increase my use of taxi cabs, since I usually don’t carry cash with me, because most transactions are done with a credit card,” Marquez said.

According to Bartolik, VeriFone is the largest supplier of these machines in New York City and the only supplier in Philadelphia. Both cities require payment and information content systems, he said.”

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