Ernest Chrappah, who is the Director of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles in Washington DC, is lauded by the U.S government’s transportation professional peers for exceptional public service, leadership, reforms, and innovation in regulating for-hire ground transportation.
A Ghanaian based in the United States, Ernest Chrappah, who is the Director of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles in Washington DC, has been selected as the 2017 International Association Transportation Regulators (IATR), Regulator of the Year, at the organization’s 30th anniversary conference held in Austin, Texas.
Washington, DC, is committed to adopting more environmentally-friendly transportation options. The Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) has encouraged for-hire operators to transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Currently, 159 EVs are in service as taxis. DFHV has awarded $377,000 in grants during Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 to 57 vehicle owners to support this electrifying initiative.
In partnership with the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation and Union Station Parking Garage, two Fast Chargers for the exclusive use of DFHV-registered taxis have been installed. Our agency is a member of the Inter-Agency Working Group created by the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) to coordinate the efforts to explore public-private partnerships. The objective is to expand the infrastructure to support EVs by increasing the number of charging stations in the District. Guidance is being given to Electrify America that plans to install multiple charging stations nationwide.
As I recently testified before the Committee on Business and Economic Development chaired by Council-member Kenyan McDuffie, Mayor Bowser’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget will provide the Department of For-Hire Vehicles with the resources to achieve inclusive prosperity by meeting the administration’s goals to support DC Values through transparency, accountability, efficiency, and economic growth. The priority for our agency is to ensure fair industry competition and excellent passenger experiences. The FY 2018 budget will allocate resources to: (1) improving transportation equity; (2) creating new business opportunities; and (3) leveraging commercially-available technology to help reduce operating costs.
We will continue to encourage the adoption of both wheelchair accessible and electric vehicles with competitive grants and incentives; and we are excited about the transition from the legacy taximeter and expensive credit card readers to lower cost app-based systems called digital taxicab solutions or DTS. The DTS will feature mobile payment, built- in GPS , automatic transfer of trip data, and dynamic pricing for street hails. Another key benefit is the reduction of operating costs by an estimated $2,000 per vehicle.
The future is now. It is incumbent on the for-hire industry to recognize that the urgency to adapt is critical to keeping up with progress. Technology has disrupted the traditional method seeking a for-hire ride by shifting public preference from raising a hand to using fingers to press an app. However, the ability to summon a ride on-demand does not change the basic equation that riders are seeking transportation from Point A to Point B and have chosen a for-hire vehicle rather than another means of transit. Passengers still expect an excellent customer experience.
The role of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles is to protect public interest and ensure a fair competitive marketplace. As such, we are working to decrease the cost to operate and reduce the burden of regulations on taxis. The influx of private vehicles (an estimated 170,000) and the uneven regulatory environment are priority issues on which DFHV is focusing. We encourage stakeholder engagement and public feedback to help assess habits and demands. It is clear that data analysis and innovation will impact the implementation of programs and policies that can effectively respond to the uncertainty of the future.