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When Cabs Attack

by Borderstan.com May 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,220 3 Comments


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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  • just some chick

    The cab system in DC is so corrupt and stupid. Why did they just raise the rates? It’s no longer remotely affordable. I routinely get sexually harassed and propositioned by drivers, who love to ignore my requested routes and take me way out of the way, despite my protests and arguments. Worst service, ever. I feel bad for the tourists who have to deal with this, it’s bad enough being a resident.

  • Washington

    Most of our customers are very considerate and generous. But the rest, they threaten to take our life, they attack us physically and mentally, and they throw out, leave thrashes such as drinking bottles, as well as perform sexual acts in our car. On top of this, they leave without paying us.

    Like the customers, I would say most of the cab drivers are good. Only 7 drivers, of the 8500, have allegedly committed offenses.

    We are attacked not only by some customers, but also by the inspectors. You have to pay bribes for some of them, in order to avoid their misuse of power.

    The Commissioner: he wants to bring some change. In addition to that, he wants to have an absolute power over the taxicab drivers. But he fears that there may be some resistance from the drivers, especially regarding his desire for absolute power. Thus, he wants the media and the public to be by his side. As a result, he has started a character assassination war on the taxicab drivers. He has, for instance, recycled the above allegation for two months.

    I think most cab drivers will not mind the installation of cameras, and most of the changes in the pipeline.

  • JC

    I’ve had some great cab drivers, but I’ve also had many more just-passable ones. And if you think getting a ride over to Capitol Hill is a challenge, I used to live in Takoma DC. The only way to get there by cab in the evening is to claim you’re going to “northwest”, get in, and when the driver refuses, you’ll have already written down his license number and threaten to report him for refusing a valid fare.

    On top of no credit cards, totally random car conditions, and the unpredictable nature of the the driver, I’ve given up – I use Uber. My deepest apologies to the amazing cab drivers out there, but the system you’re operating in has no accountability to separate out the horrible drivers from the good ones.


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