Sunday, January 15, 2012

DC Taxicab Commission Sets Up Sting on Uber Car Service

On Friday the 13th the DC Taxicab Commission fined one unlucky driver for the hybrid car-limo service, Uber, claiming that Uber operates illegally because it charges for time and distance. Only taxis are allowed to charge for distance. The driver’s Towncar, which he owns, was impounded and the driver faces over $1,000 in fines.  

Rather than going after Uber itself, the sting operation targeted an individual driver, possibly in an effort to scare other drivers from working with Uber in the District of Columbia. The DC Taxicab Chairman personally participated in this sting operation.

You can read more about Uber at and more about this incident on DCist, and in the Washington Post, .

What do you think? Should Uber, which lets you call for a car with your smartphone, be allowed to operate in the District of Columbia? Was this sting operation justified? Should the DC Taxicab Commission have gone after Uber and not an individual driver, who now faces massive fines? Should the law be changed to specifically allow services like Uber? You can comment below; you can also vote in the Cleveland Park Listserv poll on the subject (but you must be a registered Yahoo user and a listserv member to do so. Information on joining and getting access to the poll is on the listserv's FAQ page at


Results Are In For the January 3 Poll "What Bugs You About DC Taxicabs?"

The results of the Cleveland Park Listserv poll about taxis (results below) show that there's a lot of dissatisfaction with District of Columbia taxis. Of course, not everyone is dissatisfied with DC taxis, and not every taxi ride is an unpleasant or uncomfortable one.

When it comes to transportation options, more is better. Taxis work for some people sometimes, and a car service like Uber,, works for other people other times. While the DC Taxi Commission might like to limit the number of taxi alternatives, a little competition from a company like Uber wouldn't just provide other ways of getting around town, but it might inspire the Taxi Commission to improve the state of DC taxicabs.

It wasn't until June, 2008 that the Fenty administration finally forced DC taxis to use meters, rather than the confusing and oddball zone map system -- a welcome change in my opinion.

One of the changes proposed by Councilmember Cheh is to require that DC taxis accept credit cards. When this was proposed in New York, taxi drivers complained about the potential extra costs. But to drivers' benefit, passengers now tip more when they use credit cards than they did when the could only pay in cash.

Competition and change are often good when it comes to transportation. Uber should have a place in DC's transportation matrix, too.

--Bill Adler


Taxi Poll Question (Poll Closed)

What bothers you most about DC taxis? When you step into a taxi (or try to hail one), what raises your stress level? What do you think needs to be changed, added, or fixed when it comes to taxis in the District of Columbia? You can vote for as many items as you want.


- No light on top indicating availability, 11.69%
- Doesn't take credit cards, 10.69%
- Dirty/smelly/beat-up taxis, 8.27%
- Drivers who don't know their way around DC, 10.48%
- I often feel like I'm getting ripped off, 7.06%
- Taxis need a uniform color, 4.03%
- Drivers who refuse to pick up passengers, 6.65%
- Too expensive, 5.24%
- Missing/broken seat belts, 4.23%
- Rude drivers, 5.65%
- Have to argue to get AC, 4.84%
- Drivers who talk or text while driving, 14.11%
- Drivers who speed & make other illegal moves, 7.06%

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