When Cabs Attack

by Borderstan.com May 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,777 3 Comments

"Taxi"

In DC it seems everyone is always talking about cabs. (Luis Gomez Photos)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

If you’ve lived in DC for more than two years, you have seen, and probably kvetched about, the great cab debate of the city.

Are there too many? Why don’t they take credit cards? They are so rude! No one picks me up from Adams Morgan; no one takes me home to Capitol Hill and on and on.

If you are somehow able get past these (valid) complaints, the fare and meter system become the next obvious flashpoint. That is, until you are assaulted by a cab driver. Then, as WJLA reports, things escalate beyond  small talk and become part of a serious investigation.

Several riders allege assault, ranging from  sexual to violent physical assault; all incidents reported are being investigated. Drivers retort they are more often the victim of drunk and/or belligerent passengers and receive no protection or recourse for such behavior.

DC is discussing changing its laws to more easily hold hearings or revoke licenses for cab drivers. For such egregious behavior, that’s appropriate. I hope that all – drivers and passengers – that are attacked or brutalized get their justice. But with no cameras and nothing but competing eyewitness testimony, how should DCTC determine what is justice and to whom it is owed?

The DC Taxicab Commission is out on the streets in vehicles — my cab the other day was stopped to instruct the driver to turn on the lights at dusk. Is this part of their jurisdiction and if so, are there enough vehicles out to prevent such violence?

Changing cabs to accept credits cards is easier than a full-scale shift in taxicab culture and etiquette, and that’s been a long, slow slog. So Borderstan readers, where does cab safety rate on the priority list for DC? Should cameras be added to all cabs or is that a privacy issue? How do we provide safe, efficient and speedy cab service — and how do we protect our drivers from violence and theft?

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