Have a Bad Cab Ride – You Now Have an Advocate, on Twitter @BadCabDC

Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

“Dear PoP,

I started @BadCabDC after a lot of discussion with friends, complaints from clients and countless near-misses with DC taxis. The goal of BadCab is to set up an easy way for people to Tweet their concerns and experiences about dangerous taxi drivers around town. Seeing taxis swerve into oncoming traffic, running red lights, taking advantage of the meter fees and blocking lanes of traffic is becoming a daily fact of life here. As a lifelong DC resident, I know we can do better.

Ideally, if I get enough feedback from people, I will put together a report at the end of each month and send it to DCTC. The complaint processes for taxis is complicated and most people don’t bother going through the appropriate channels. I’m willing to make the effort to take the information and put it into the right hands.

I know that most taxi drivers are hardworking, professional people trying to earn a living. Unfortunately, there are a few bad apples that spoil the bunch. I’m hoping DC residents like us can point out the bad apples to DCTC so appropriate action can be taken by the city to ensure that we all get safe rides.”

This seems very promising given some of the difficulties we’ve had in the past. Back in April a reader wrote about a bad experience and we made some recommendations for good companies. On a side note, I heard rumors that DC may one day get a medallion system for cabs. Anyone think that’ll work/improve service?

You can follow @BadCabDC here and me @PoPville here.

30 Comment

  • Unfortunately, there are quite a few bad apples among DC cabbies.

  • Not to mention the fact that calling for a cab is basically a crap shoot.

  • I heard rumors that DC may one day get a medallion system for cabs. Anyone think that’ll work/improve service?

    Let’s see… hmm….. Well, it turns out the cabbies are *for* it–therefore, I’m agin’ it.

    • In general, licensing (or medallion-ing, in this case) only serves to keep newcomers out of a business. The upfront fees and inspections required are usually not a hardship for existing providers (cabbies) — particularly if they are grandfathered in — but serve as a disincentive to anyone looking to provide competition.

  • The biggest problem I have with cabs is late on weekends where you have cabs that will stop just to see where you are going and then decide if they want your fare. I have checked the law on this and in short it ain’t right!

    • You don’t have to answer their question. Get in the back and they need to take you where you want to go. You’ve got to know your passenger rights!

      PS: This twitter feed is a great idea. This is the first time I’ve actually been tempted to join that ridiculous tweet-circle.

      • That works if they unlock the door. If they don’t unlock the door until you tell them where you want to go (and they decide that that is an acceptable destination) there isn’t much you can do other than record their tag number.

  • Like nearly everything else on twitter, this will just be a circle jerk. Everyone knows DC cabbies are corrupt dicks who game the system to rip you off or deny you service. If you want to file real complaints at least send them to the right place; your council member, mayors office, &/or the DC Taxicab Commission:
    Phone: (202) 645-6018
    Email: [email protected]

    • A twitter feed can provide a useful service if people both report their cab problems to DCTC and use twitter, and actually collect relevant information (taxi number). Twitter can help get people’s complaints out in the open and motivate people in power to do something about a problem.

      But yes, if people just post things like “cabbie wouldn’t take me home!” without any relevant information about WHO that cabbie is, then it’s pointless.

    • Agreed. Those of us who have been severely and/or repeatedly wronged by cabbies (such as the all-too common sexual assault victims) have stopped taking cabs altogether and would not be using this system anywy.

  • Taxis on duty that deny to take you places. ENRAGING, you hail a taxi and before you even get in they ask you “where are you going?” then tell you NO!! who cares where I am going, its your job to take me if your light is on and you are in service, your a taxi for fucks sake. Now im not going to dangerous neighborhoods at night or asking to be taken from bethesda to fairfax, Im trying to get from Colombia heights to china town, so why wont these guys take me? And dont even think of hailing a cab if you have a suite case at rush hour…Im just saying if your IN SERVICE unless im asking you to take me from the district to Va Beach you better take me.

  • lol at this idea. like DCTC wants a report from a twitter feed.

  • One night I was cabbing from DC to VA at around 12:00AM and the cabbie, who looked like Benecio Del Toro from Fear and Loathing, said the following things during the cab ride. Keep in mind that we talked a bit before this and the convo warmed up when he learned that I was a Psychiatric Counselor…

    “I can’t sleep man its been like two days, I tried smoking weed, but it didn’t make me tired so I decided to get some fares tonight.”

    “Doctor told me I should be taking a bunch of drugs…Prolixin and shit…but I hate em man…make me like a like a zombie man. So It’s just coffee and weed for me.”

    “Yeah!… *laughs*. God, I had a knife to my own throat earlier this week just sitting in the bathroom, daring myself to do it…but I got kids man, you know?…and I don’t want them to be alone with their mother, she’s a crazy bitch.”

  • A better strategy: Boycott cabs. Hit them where it hurts and maybe they’ll start acting like decent human beings. Also, please donate to help us get safe and non-discriminating cab drivers in DC: http://www.rightrides.org/dc/

  • I’m not sure why people are doubting the power of public embarrassment to get bodies like the dctc to do a stricter job…

    Honestly, I hardly ever use cabs anyway though. If they didn’t charge extra for each person and restart the meter for a 2 second drop off, then maybe it would be worth it to split one, but they’re just too expensive in a city with good public transport.

    • You have a point. If a restauant were to routinely violate health codes, rip off customers, deny them service, and treat them poorly if they are female, homosexual, or a different race, it would be all over Yelp and they’d be bankrupt within a month. Essentially DC cab drivers are acting the same way and there is not a public outlet to call them out on it.

    • Yes, shame is a powerful motivator. Beyond that, the guy says he’ll start compiling reports if he gets enough response. Most anyone can tweet from their smartphones today. I think it’s a great idea.

      I’d add to his service an “Atta boy!” reporting option. Knowing which are the better cab companies is extremely useful in steering us toward the right rides.

      Can you imagine people turning down rides because they aren’t one of the preferred companies? I love the concept. Companies that refuse fares based on destination would end up having less people hailing them. We’d finally have some kind of metric to use when choosing a cab, and can punish bad behavior by withdrawing business from problem fleets.

  • i hate hate hate dc cabs! though, i did have a good experience with dctc. i got into a cab and noticed that the meter kept increasing by 31 cents rather than 25 – it had been altered. it was rush hour and i needed to catch a flight, so i recorded all his information and gave him what i believed was the correct fare (it’s not like he was going to call the cops on me since he was in the wrong!)
    when i got back from my trip, i emailed dctc with the story and all his information. someone called me back a few days later to verify my story and said, “we will get this guy.” i don’t know what came of it, but it made me feel better. by the way, the cab company was aspen cab.

  • Question: what happens to cabbies that are reported to the DCTC? If I report to a cop that a cabbie almost took me out,they’re not going to do jack. What’s the DCTC going to do? Is there any means of reporting dangerous and unlawful activity that’s actually going to make a difference?

  • How many times have you had a bad flight and said “I’ll never fly Delta again!” only to find that for your next flight, Delta is $25 less than AirTran, and so you book with them again anyway?
    This is even more likely to happen with cabs. What, I’m going to stand on a freezing corner for longer than I have to, just because the first cab to pull up is from a company that got dinged on Twitter? Unlikely because A) I won’t remember which companies are in the hall of shame, and B) I will be freezing and just want to get on my way.
    Has anyone here actually hailed a cab, then dismissed the one that stops if it’s from a company you don’t like? Honestly curious…

  • am i the only one that never takes cabs?

    • There are those who think nothing of taking a cab, and those who don’t take them at all. Usually it’s the young and frivolous that fall into the former category, while older people fall into the latter.

      I can only think of one time in the past 3 years that I used a cab to get somewhere. I had just returned from a long trip, my usual rides were unavailable, and the thought of hauling all my luggage on and off the metro and bus on a rainy day when I was sleep-deprived was too much to consider. Also my company would reimburse me for the fare.

      But yeah, generally I’ll walk 10 miles before calling a cab.

      • Me too. I’ve taken one in 6 years here.

        I didn’t want to bus/walk from Ft Totten home at 11pm after a trip. $8 cab ride for the mile and a half was a no-brainer.

        Otherwise, never take ’em.

  • DC seems like the only city where cabs rarely accept credit cards.

    • me

      The other day, I took a cab home from the airport because I was just so tired and wanted to get home. He was kind of rude when I asked a question, but I let it go. When I gave him the money (a $50 bill for a twenty-something dollar cab ride) he looked at me like I had two heads and said that he wouldn’t take it, he had no change. Okay, well, here is my credit card. He refused to take that too, even though it specifically stated in the cab, on the cab, and on his business cards he had in the backseat that he took credit cards.

      I said that he could either give me change for the $50 or take my credit card. He then screamed at me to get out of his cab, yelling obscenities throughout. Oh, well. Free cab ride.

      • The “I don’t have change” trick is used all the time. The hopes are that you’ll just give them the larger bill, and subsequently a really fat tip.

  • Most cabs in DC are such a PITA. In spite of knowing your rights, do most young women actually want to insist on being driven by some lunatic who CLEARLY doesn’t want to drive to where you want to go, and is threatening? I don’t, so I get their cab number and license number and report them.

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