Dear PoPville – Taxi Cab Refuses Ride

“Dear PoPville,

I had an extremely frustrating taxicab experience Saturday night. My husband and I were leaving a bar in Chinatown late Saturday night. We hailed a cab and while I was saying goodbye to our friends my husband tried to get in. The driver instead rolled down the passenger window and asked my husband where we were going. We live in Brookland and taxis often don’t want to drive us there because it is a quieter area and hard to pick up return fares (I’ve actually had a cab driver tell me after I got in and told him my address that his check engine light just came on and he would never make it so I should just get out).

My husband started to tell the driver where we were going when I realized what was going on and told him not to answer but to get in the cab – that it is illegal for taxi drivers to not let a person in once they have stopped. When the driver heard me say that he sped off. Am I right that it is illegal for cab drivers to refuse to pick you up or make choices based on where you are going? I was furious and took down the taxi’s license plate number – is that enough to file a complaint with?”

and while we’re on the topic of cabs:

“Dear PoPville,

I’ve used Yellow Cab or Diamond Cab since I’ve lived in DC. I’ve never had a problem calling a cab to come pick me or a visitor. But at my current home, it basically doesn’t happen. The dispatcher will say she is calling a cab and then no one accepts it. Considering this has happened at least ten times in the year I have moved to North Petworthish, I need a new cab comapny or driver to call who will actually show up.”

131 Comment

  • I am pretty sure it’s illegal for a cab to stop, ask where you are going and then decide not to take you there. It is illegal in NYC, it’s probably illegal in DC, too. There are a lot of reasons that they may not want to go to a location (unsafe, not easy to get return fares, etc.). While annoying, I’ve always thought it was better to ride in a cab that doesn’t have a problem taking you where you want to go.

    • It is illegal for cabs to:

      -Ask you the destination prior to your entering the cab


      -Refuse to haul you to a destinationin the DC metropolitan area

      • Agree – Any City Slicker in this town knows that you get in the cab and then explain where you are going. Then, it’s illegal for them to kick you out.

  • ah

    Yes, it is illegal to do what they did.

    You can report it to the taxi commission, which may or may not lead to a hearing and discipline for the driver.

  • According to the DC Cab Commission website you are correct that it is illegal for them to not take you to your destination.

  • That’s not surprising. I will take the rudeness or apparent cluelessness of NYC cabbies over this nonesense here any day. And denying you a ride because of your destination? 90% of these guys come from the Horn of Africa and “North Petworth” must be paradise in comparison. They have no reason (or the right) to balk.

    • Cab drivers do the same thing in NYC…

    • Did you really just say that those black people should know their place?

    • Yeah, when I lived in Brooklyn, the cab-driver discrimination was so much better than it is in DC. Like, when the cabbies in the Village would pull up, roll down their windows, ask me where I was going, and I’d say “Brooklyn…” they were so much cooler as they pulled away and moved on to the next person with their arm out.

      Maybe my jeans weren’t skinny enough…

    • Dear MartyP at 11:37AM,

      They are not rejecting the fare because they think North Petworth is a bad area- they don’t want to drive there because they’ll have nobody to pick up for the return fare when they have to drive back to the action- to pick up the next guy. It’s much better to take someone from Adams morgan, to Foggy Bottom (for example), because it’ll take less time AND you’ll presumably find another person Foggy Bottom to take wherever they’re going (in the same amount of time.)

      Also, you (kind of) suck. I’m sure that there are nice places to live in the Horn of Africa. I don’t know for sure, but I assume that there are.

      “HEY YOU! POOR CAB DRIVER! Take me to West Virginia! Oh you don’t want to? haha! West Virginia is paradise compared to whatever shit-hole you’re from”

      See how that’s a sucky assumption?

      • and some might reject the fare because of the desirability of the neighborhood. Either way, they shouldn’t be doing it. But I do realize they have a reason for doing it- but they can’t because it’s against some regulation.

    • this is the most ignorant comment I’ve ever read. How dare you assume that because someone is from Africa that Petworth in DC is a blessing. This is so ethnocentric. “no reason (or the right) to balk”?? You know nothing about nothing. This is disgusting.

  • andy

    I know this is contrarian and somewhat in conflict with a very negative history of discriminatory service.

    But what about the economic side of this, rather than the “right to go wherever I want” side of things?

    If a cab driver doesn’t make as much money running you to your place, why can’t he or she choose not to take your business?

    A grocery store can reject your credit card for small transactions. An airline can refuse to fly to an airport in the middle of nowhere. I doubt I can take a bus to Chincoteague, Virginia (though that would be awesome). Some transactions just are not the best economic choice for the people involved, and it isn’t always the same as some moral judgment about you or where you live.

    Why can’t a cab driver refuse to take your business if it’s not a favorable choice for him or her?

    • Because it’s illegal.

      “It is against the law to refuse a person based on race, disability or destination in the District of Columbia. A taxicab driver is required to drive a passenger to any destination in the District of Columbia.”

      • andy

        Yeah, that’s right. I mean to ask the question BEYOND the “rights” issue. The economic side of things.

        • The economic side:

          Cabbies can make a living because the supply is regulated by the government. As a condition of that regulation (and in return for its very real economic benefit to cabbies) they are not allowed to turn down service.

        • Because cabbies don’t have an absolute right to ply their trade on DC streets. When you choose to accept the economic benefit of a hack license you also choose to adhere to certain rules that we as a whole have decided are necessary.

          The economic choice that you’re referring to is really whether to accept the privilege to operate a taxi. After that the free market goes out the window and you have to adhere to certain rules. Don’t like ’em? Go find some other line of work.

      • Unless they are in the car, they aren’t a passenger.

        I am no fan of DC cabs, and while what he did was rude, it wasn’t illegal.

    • Brookland is not that far from high pickup areas. Cab drivers just want to be able to cruise U St. and downtown. They act like no one lives anywhere else in DC. This behavior is why I make sure I’m not out so late that Metro will be closed. Because cab drivers really act like it’s such a huge hassle if you ask them to drive 10 minutes past U St. (which is where Brookland is).

    • Because historically cab drivers have used this excuse to refuse to take pick up dark-skinned passengers. Since they’re licensed by the city, they are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race. “Sorry, I don’t go to Anacostia” really means, “Sorry, no black passengers.”

      Usually, though, they avoid this by just not stopping for people of color. In the past, I have actually had to hail a cab on 14th St. for a friend of mine after he spent ten minutes with cabs refusing to stop. Took me about 30 seconds.

      • Aren’t many cabbies (if not most) black? Are you saying black cabbies won’t pick up black passengers? Are they racists?

        • Things are a bit more complicated than this. It is often immigrants from Africa denying cab rides to African Americans. While it is true that both parties are “black” – the two individuals come from VERY different cultural backgrounds and each community has negative stereotypes about the other

          • If by “racist” you mean prejudiced against Black Americans, then African immigrants are some of the most racist people there are. Not all, but many.

          • I am from east Africa. I asked some taxi drivers about this issue in the past and the ones I talked to told me that they are concerned about their safety. I guess in the past some taxi drivers were refused payment after dropping off passengers, robbed, and also some were murdered after picking up passengers from busy part of town to a remote part of town. Most of the crimes were committed by black men and some black women. I guess probably the same guys who could potentially rob you on the streets if given the chance could also do it to the taxi driver… in the process the innocent suffer because of the action of some bad passengers.

        • there is a difference between bigotry and racsim.

    • ah

      A “why is it illegal” answer would be more helpful.

      1) Taxis are regarded as common carriers–like trains and public utilities–they are obligated to offer their service at the same price to all, without discrimination. That’s the terms of of being a licensed taxicab in the city. If a driver doesn’t like that model, he can operate a for-hire limo/driver service where he can decline those rides.

      2) The goal is universal service. If taxis could decline rides then certain segments, perhaps large segments, of the city would not be served by taxis.

      Neither of these issues is unique to taxis. Clearly there is a free-market argument against these concepts, but it’s not like Verizon can cherry-pick where it provides service (ha-it chooses to provide service nowhere!).

    • A grocery store is actually not allowed to reject your card for small transactions. Not a law, but if VISA found out they would be very upset and the store can end up losing their CC machine.

      The rest of the examples are not even close. Airlines and buses have fixed locations they go to. A cab is to get around (anywhere) in the city.

      Most cabbies are not the sharpest tools in the shed. I used to live in Silver Spring and would often take cabs home. It would take a while for me to find one that would take me from Georgetown to Silver Spring at 2am, for example. Many of them simply refused. However, often times the cabbie that took me would tell me how others were stupid for not taking the fare, bird in hand vs bush and all.

      But to get around town? No way is it not economically viable to take a fare anywhere in the city.

      NEVER happens in NYC though. I think at some point they really cracked down on cabbies that did that.

      • It does happen in NYC try getting a cab to go to Brooklyn from Manhattan.

        It obviously doesn’t justify the practice but the constant dogging of DC in comparison to NYC – especially when the comparison isn’t true- gets very old.

      • Happened to me Wednesday night in NYC for a meeting – I was in the West Village, going to Mid-town so it wasn’t even a Broolyn thing, and the cabbie simply didn’t want to go there. When I lived in Brookland, and worked nights in Foggy Bottom, happened all the time. Filed complaints with the taxi commission several times, and it never seemed to change anything.

    • to add to the replies here, grocery stores are technically allowed to refuse your credit card for small transactions. Refusing to accept your card for any purchase is a violation of the terms of service with the CC companies.

      While I understand why businesses try to enforce minimum card purchases due to the amount they are charged per transaction, it is still a reason a customer could report them to visa/mc/amex.

      As far as the cab things go, they are simply being assholes. Dating back to their fight against the meters, perhaps they shouldn’t have ripped off some many people using the old zone system

    • And it’s also illegal (per the contract they sign with the credit card companies) to charge a minimum purchase amount for a transaction. If reported (I’m looking at you, every single korean-owned store), they could void their contract and be forced to only accept cash. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    • Your basis is wrong, merchants are contractually obligated to take credit cards for any amount, if they take them at all.

      Also, your argument, beyond having an incorrect analogy, is pointless, because like it or not, its illegal.

      • its funny, cause you’re post was actually more pointless than his. He knows its illegal, he just wanted to know why. And all things considered, I thought that was a fair question even if it wasn’t worded in the best way.

    • …a grocery store *can’t* reject your credit card for small transactions. This is against their contract with VISA/Amex, etc.

    • Because it’s their job. Nothing says that being a cab driver guarantees you’ll always have a fare. It’s the way it works.

      Seriously, when will this city do some real taxi cab reform.

  • Re: Calling a cab: I’ve had better luck with Red Top Cab when I needed a ride to National or Dulles. I believe they’re all based in Arlington and can’t take you from one DC destination to another, though.

    I’ve had the most bizarre drivers in the world whenever I’ve called a Diamond cab, though.

  • I live in same area. Tell them you live around North Capitol and then tell them to keep going. And you’re right, the only way to combat this is by filing complaints. Store the number of the taxi commission in your phone, make sure you get in the cab before telling them where you live, and if they refuse, tell them you’re calling the commission.

  • This is why I hate cabs in DC. We moved up to N. Michigan Park- right next to Fort Totten- and practically have to BEG to get a cab to take us home (after 3 or 4 have flat out said no) and Fort Totten has an active cab stand!

    Not sure what we can do in this situation other than start pounding our Council members and ANC Commissioners about this. Unfortunately the DC Taxi Commission has done a good job financially supporting all politicians in the District to ensure that business will remain as usual.

    What to do in the interim? I have no idea. I’ve tried being nice, I’ve tried being angry, and I’ve even filed a complaint, but nothing has changed. Had this exact same issue 5 years ago when I lived on the Hill and would try to get a cab from U St. Not sure what more we need to do to fix this pervasive problem.

    • I have come to never telling the driver my destination until I’m sitting in the back seat and the door is closed. I’m sure there are still some a-holes who will refuse a destination at that point (even though it is illegal), but it drastically reduces those instances, IMO.

      • A number of the cabbies that refuse trips, keep the cab doors locked so you can’t enter the cab until you’ve told them where you want to go.

        • That’s why you always lie 🙂 They roll up, window down, doors locked: “Where you going?” they ask. I know that my neighborhood isn’t their first choice, so I cheerfully say “14th and U!” or “Logan Circle!” or “Adams Morgan!” or some other nearby, popular destination.

          They unlock the doors, I get in, put on my seatbelt, and then say “Oh, you know what? I forgot something – I actually need to go to Brightwood / Brookland / Hill East / Anacostia / etc instead. Here is the new address”. I have had *many* cab drivers grumble at me when I do this, but only one who refused to take me where I wanted to go. I said “Fine. Then I guess I’ll call 911 and we’ll just sit here till the police show up. They’ll point to this document right here on the back of the seat that says I have a right to go to any destination in the District. Even if they don’t force you to take me, you’ll lose a whole hour’s wages, or more, sitting here waiting for them to respond, talk to both of us separately, and then finally make a decision on what to do. And then, the bonus is that I’ll have a police report to use when I file against you with the taxicab commission. You lose your license and I don’t have to deal with the risk of having you refuse to take me where I have the right to go again. And I’ll still get home eventually, and TiVo will still be full of tv and waiting for me when I get there :)”

          He must have realized I was right, because he said he’d take me where I asked to go for free if I just didn’t call the police. I got a free ride to Hill East 🙂

          So, next time, just lie and tell them the truth once you get in the cab and get a seatbelt on. If the driver was going to take you anyway, no harm, no foul. If the driver would’ve been one of the jack*sses who was going to speed away even with your hand in the door handle (watched a girl get dragged down 17th Street that way once for nearly half a block), then what you’ve done is no more underhanded than what he was doing.

  • 1. I live in hill east. This happens to me all the time – cab pulls up, locks doors, rolls down window and asks where I am going. I usually just try to get in the cab and tell them they can’t do that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I know when I tell them where I am going they will drive off. Sometimes I’m almost scared when I do get in and tell them where I am going. This is ten times worse when my (black) boyfriend attempts (I am a white female), and it has gotten to the point that if it is late at night, he stands off to the side until I can secure one. Extremely sad. once he had to have a cop hail a cab for him late at night.

    2. Getting a cab to come pick me up in hill east from my house by calling? No chance unless its during the middle of the day, or I’m going to the airport in which case I call red top cab since I’ll be going to VA.

    3. I’ve gotten to the point of taking a picture with my phone of the cabs late at night as they pull up so I can report them when/if they drive off. Still yet to do it actually, thanks for the reminder. Not sure if its ILLEGAL, but definitely worth reporting.

    4. Taxi situation sucks in DC, and I feel bad for the few honest cab drivers who follow the rules, and are actually polite, and are probably still treated like crap because of the bad taste every other one has left in our mouths.

    • ah

      I’d be strongly tempted, expecting this to happen, to make a short video clip and send it to the Taxi commission each time. There’s really no point in forcing them to take you–get them to decline and turn them in.

    • Also in Hill East and I make sure to just say “Capitol Hill” when they pull up, then tell them the address once already in. I also give extra tips to cabbies who don’t complain. A lot of them laugh when I say “thanks for taking me out here” because they say it’s no problem at all cutting back out onto Penn Ave and getting fares from the Eastern Market area going back the other way. Unfortunately, the ones who prefer to shuttle people around U Street and Georgetown don’t realize this.

    • Last Friday as it was storming out, the same thing happend to me. Cabbie locked the door as I stood in the rain, asked where I was going, decided it was an acceptable area and let me in. I asked him why he locked the door when I approached…his response? “Just shut your mouth”. Yes, I took a picture of his license, yes I got his cab #. Will anything happen? No.

      • Just promise a huge tip ($25) for them to take you and then hand them $2. Or, in this case, no tip at all.

      • um, if the cabbie said “just shut your mouth” to you, the next step is to get out of the car without paying wherever you were. creepy a**hole.

      • No, nothing will happen, because he didn’t do anything wrong. There are no regulations about when drivers can or cannot lock their doors. Even if you suspect that he was sussing out whether you lived somewhere “acceptable,” he still did take you where you were going, and he isn’t obligated to explain himself to you or even be polite (although, sure, it would be nice if all cab drivers were). Save the outrage for someone who deserves it; I’m sure it won’t be hard to find someone worthy another time.

        • Outrage over being spoken to rudely is wholly legitimate.

          • Being upset is one thing, and I would agree that it’s valid in this case. Being outraged to the point of making a complaint and expecting/hoping for punishment, well, I think that’s going a little far. He was rude, but he didn’t break any laws or violate any regulations. I’m not saying that I condone rudeness, but rather that there are other, more significant issues where real offenses are committed and real harm is done that are worth getting this worked up about. This is not one of them.

          • I see more outrage in your response to her post than I see in her telling of the story.

    • There are definitely plenty of honest, decent cabbies out there who are overshadowed by the ones who try to screw you. I’ve had cabs drive circuits around the city, assuming I’m a tourist to drive up fares and when I call them on it, they threaten to call the cops.

      I usually beat them to that step…

    • I used to live in that area and found the same problems. The first thing I ever do is open the door and get in. If the back door is locked, you know theres gonna be a problem, so you might as well say something like “down the street” or something ambiguous so they’ll unlock the doors. Once your in the cab, if they refuse to take you, just pull out your phone and tell them youre calling 311. They usually end up driving at that point.

    • Yeah, I don’t see why they should bitch about Cap Hill or Hill East. They can easily pick up fares by Eastern Market/PA Ave bars or zoom up to H st.

      • Do a lot of cabs really “zoom up to H st.” these days? I haven’t been there in a few years, but when I did, I used to call for cabs and wait literally hours to get picked up because no one wanted to drive in that area. Have things changed to the point where cabs are freely roaming there now? I ask sincerely; I’d like to go there more often but was so turned off by how impossible it was to get home that I sort of gave it up.

        • Yes, really. It’s not nearly at Georgetown’s level of cabs, but I’ve never had a problem getting a cab to take me there or catching one on H street at the end of the night.

        • This really has improved in the last couple years. When I first started going there getting home was a significant challenge, but no more!

    • Fellow Hill Easterner here. I’ve also had quite a bit of trouble getting cabs to take me home so now I just tell the driver “around Union Station.” I live several blocks from there. Once we get closer, I tell the driver my address and there’s never been an issue. I think once drivers realize that they can turn around and pick up an easy fare at Union Station, there isn’t much of a problem.

      Also, I don’t know why drivers don’t just realize they can pick up very easy fares on H St NE after dropping me off. With few options of public transportation there, I always see several people trying to flag down cabs.

  • This has always been a problem in DC. Yes, you’re right. Cab drivers hate being called out on it, but they do it all the time and will lie or stop the cab and physically drag you out if they don’t like where you’re going. They are criminals and thugs. The only way the industry is ever going to change, though, is if we stop electing thugs like Jim Graham and Vince Gray, who are both bought and paid for by the taxi industry. Graham’s chief of staff is doing time for accepting bribes from taxi industry reps, and Gray’s campaign just got nailed for offering and not reporting hundreds of free cab rides to voters on election day last year.

    Meanwhile, shit like this happens all the time and even if you had the hack license number, the plate number, the cab number, and the cab company, there’s not a person in this city in any position of authority who will do a damn thing to rectify the problem. The bottom line is, Graham and Gray and all the rest have a different definition of constituent. Theirs are the ones who write checks and have envelopes full of cash, not the residents of their ward or the District on the whole.

  • This happens constantly to my husband, a restaurant worker who is often trying to get home on weekends from Adams Morgan around the time the bars get out. Cabs either won’t stop when they see it’s just one guy, or they will stop and then speed off to pick up a bigger group. It’s infuriating, especially since he’s going to 9th and U, where it would be very easy to pick up a return fare.

  • I agree with andy. It is not a problem, it is someone making an economical business decision. Cab drivers are no different than any other business owner. If your boss offered you $5 to do project A and $10 to do project B, which would you choose? Assuming you’re a rational decision maker, you would choose project B. Cab drivers are no different.

    • Except that they are statutorily required to take you. With as much influence as the cab drivers have in this city you’d think they could change that.

    • If it’s illegal, it’s a problem.

    • This economically viable argument is bogus. It is not project A or B. It is project A or you sit and do nothing and HOPE there is a project B. Do you people not see this?

      The only 2 valid arguments that a cabbie has given me for refusing fares is safety and payment. Saftey, ok, I can understand that. But you are a cabbie. This is your job. You don’t want to do it cause you are afraid? Get another job. So the safety thing doesn’t really hold water…

      Payment however, is an actual issue. I have heard from many cabbies that many times when they reach a destination in a bad neighborhood the passenger will jump out and not pay. What are they gonna do? Jump out and run after them? This is actually a very valid argument.

      Having said all that, I think the main reasons they don’t pick up certain fares is because they are racist and because they know they can get away with it.

      • I believe cabbies have the right to request payment in advance. It’s only happened to me once, back when I lived in Glover Park, but I think it’s even listed on that regulations sheet they all have posted. So, they actually have a way to past the payment issue.

        • this sounds like it may have been valid when there were zones, but now that we’re on meter, i don’t see how this would work

    • thats like saying a company can make an economical decision to dump their waste in a river. it may make sense for them, but the rule is in place for a reason.

    • I think most people here see what point you’re trying to make, but that doesn’t mean this practice still isn’t illegal. And what are people who live outside of the drivers’ “zone” supposed to do? These laws are in place for a reason and I’m certainly not comfortable with a stranger judging whether or not I can get a [hopefully] safe ride home based off my neighborhood or appearance.

    • The cab market is a regulated industry, not a free market. Entry is restricted and fares are regulated. These things benefit the drivers. In exchange, drivers must take fares to any destination (within a prescribed area that presumably includes the entire District).

      We can hypothesize about what the market would look like if it wasn’t regulated. Presumably there would be many more cabs and fares would be lower (and the vehicles even more run down). But it might be even harder to get cabs to take you to “less desirable” parts of the city.

      Whoever mentioned common carriers above is right. This sort of reasoning is used a lot to get companies to service areas it may not be economical to service.

  • This happens all the time. I try to kick the cab and do as much damage to it as possible as they drive off. Be careful with your form, however, as I almost broke my toe once.

  • Cab drivers in DC are money grubbing jerks. Without a real, good faith enforcement effort (of which the Taxi Commission is incapable), this problem will never get better.

    • Here is the actual code:

      819.4 Taxicab operators shall, at all times when on duty and not engaged, furnish service on
      demand to any person, except as provided for in § 819.5.

      819.5 No taxicab operator shall refuse to transport a person while holding his or her taxicab
      for hire, unless:
      (a) Previously engaged;
      (b) Unable or forbidden by the provisions of this title to do so;
      (c) The operator has reason to believe the person is engaged in a violation of law;
      (d) The operator has cause to fear injury to his or her person, property or taxicab.

  • Helpful hint: One time I called yellow and diamond to my Petworth location really late at night to take someone home in Glover Park. After two hours and repeat calls to the dispatcher nobody had arrived so I called red top and told them a VA destination. They arrived in 10 minutes! Once they got in the car they said, sorry, I changed my destination and gave them the DC location. We felt terrible lying but at 4 am it was time to do something drastic.

  • Good luck if you ever file a complaint, because it will be ignored unless your complaint somehow makes it to a major media outlet.

    The only population more coddled than cab drivers in this city are teenage criminals.

  • In the past on this, readers have written, “get in the car, refuse to get out, and threaten to call the police because you know it is illegal for them to refuse service”

    What would you ask Police (or taxi cab commission enforcement officers)? Please come over to issue a citation for failing to comply with “_______” (law)?

  • I moved to Petworth Heights a few years ago. Have actually had really good luck with cabbies, including one very late the other night who actually heard me whistle from half block away and he pulled over (drove me to Rhode Island Ave back).

    One old veteran cabbie of color once said to me “he basically assumes every male person of color in our lovely neighborhood is packing heat. He strongly recommended that I, as a person of non-color (aka white), get a gun to defend myself against the huge number of violent thugs of color in DC”. No wonder they avoid the bad neighborhoods and that we continue to have plexiglass between us and cashiers at our local markets.

  • I live in “North Petworthish” and I deal with both issues listed in this post on a regular basis. Here is how I deal with each of them:

    1. When I get a cab late at night downtown bound for home, I simply get in the cab and act like I am on the phone until they start driving. They can always find a number of reasons not to take you, so be prepared not to let them win. I always have exact change so they can’t say “I don’t have change for a $20” even though that is illegal as well. I always begin recording via video on my cell phone the minute I get in the cab and if the destination becomes a problem I take a video of the driver’s license and tell them to explain to me exactly why they can’t take me home. If they pull the old “check engine light” trick, I tell them that I am a mechanic and can fix his issue right now. It is essential to have an answer for everything. I am lucky for two reasons. I hail cabs downtown, so they don’t usually pull up and lock the door immediately before asking my destination. They think I am going to U street or Dupont. Also, I am white and wear a suit and tie to work everyday so if it is after work I look like a good fare. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I was a darker complexion and had to hail a cab on say H Street or Adams Morgan.

    2. I started using this company to come pick me up for trips to the airport because Yellow, Diamond, and Red Top won’t come to our neighborhood.
    It is a little more expensive for the airport trip, but you are guaranteed to get a car. On the trips around town, I simply get a zip car or plan ahead to get the bus/metro. It is the reality of our situation, and there is really nothing you can do about it since the cabs can simply deny the request. I NEVER rely on the cab companies for on time pick ups since I moved to our nice little hood. I can’t take the chance that I will miss a flight or a meeting.

  • Unless the cab is OFF-duty (aka LIGHT OFF), s/he must take you wherever you need to go in DC. I’ve definitely tried catching cabs from U Street to Northeast and had cabbies refuse service, only for them to get pulled over by MPD right after. A lot of MPD officers have a low tolerance for taxi driver hi-jinx.

    The REAL problem is getting taxi companies to send cabs your way if you call them. That is if they pick up the phone…

    • this is moot. cab drivers here seem not to know they even have a light on top of their cabs. they’re never on when they’re supposed to be…. that’s the ONE thing you can depend on in NYC… you know the cab is empty if the light is on, that it’s off duty when all the lights are on and there is a passenger when it’s off… I miss cabs in NYC, especially that it’s ALL ONE COMPANY and they are all bright yellow. DC cabs have a long way to go

  • Back during the zone system, and I got in the cab and told the driver my destination, he quoted a price that was too high based on the zones (it was early Sunday morning, and there was no way he would get a return fare). I told him the quoted fare was incorrect and he told me to get out. I filed a report, and the DC Taxi Commission followed up with me about 6 months later to let me know that they had assessed a $250 fine.

    This isn’t to say that it’s our (citizens) responsibility to enforce the law, but I would like to counter that when I took the time to file a complaint, it was followed up and resolved.

  • The perennial shitty cab service in DC makes a lot more sense once you realize that (like many of DC’s quasi-governmental industries) it primarily serves as a jobs program for Maryland residents.

    (Something like 75% of DC cab drivers live outside the District, and that goes up to 85% when you look at DC cab drivers who’ve held a hack license for more than a few years. Obviously hack licenses shouldn’t be reserved for DC residents, but we *should* be driving as hard a bargain as possible. Cab driver job security should be the absolute last thing we care about.)

  • I always get in the taxi first even if “asked” where I’m headed. And, if the door is locked, I simply go back and find another cab. The fun then is having them argue with me that they will take me where ever, they “just want to know” while I get into another cab and wave goodbye….

  • I once called Barwood, was told a cab was coming, twenty minutes later I called looking for the cab. The dispatcher said they didn’t pick up in my neighborhood. 3rd and I NE. Who would have thunk it!

    • Barwood is a Maryland taxi company, I believe — as such they aren’t supposed to pick up in DC unless your destination is MD, and still aren’t likely to.

  • I had this happen once in Baltimore.

    This seems like a good use for a cell phone camera. Start rolling before they pull over and if they ask you where you are going, point it at them conspicuously and say “you are not legally allowed to ask me that.”

  • I always tell people, when POP want to get peoples blood pumping he post something about race or realestate, I must now add Taxi Cabs in DC!

  • re: trying to find a cab that will actually pick you up in Petworth when call the dispatcher. Every morning I see 3 Silver cabs parked at the corner of Varnum and 7th (or is it 8th?). I haven’t ever called Silver but perhaps, since some of the cabbies live in Petworth, they might be more likely to actually come and pick you up?

  • This happened to me once when trying to get from Friendship Heights to LeDroit Park. After both of us were in the cab the driver told me to get out because he didn’t want to drive that far. His excuse was that he was driving out to Maryland because his shift was almost over.

    So after protesting we got out….but instead of the driver pulling away he pulled half way down the block and picked someone else up. So I did what any sensible person would do…I chased down the cab, banged on the window and told him to stop. I mentioned if he continued with that fare that I was calling the cops. The person who had hailed this cab understood completely and got out after hearing our story.

  • I wouldn’t want to pick you up too, you live too far

  • I had the 1st story happen to me by 3 cabs in a row one night.

  • Wow. This is really sad reading this. As a 32 year old white male who has never had a problem getting a cab or going wherever i needed it sickens me to read this. I don’t think I have ever had an experience where a cab driver locked the doors and asked where i was going before getting in.

    The worst experience i ever had with a cab driver was when he ran a stop sign and almost ran me and my dog over in a crosswalk. Luckily it was summer and he had his windows down and for some reason my first instinct was to throw the bag of poop I had just scooped into the back of his cab. The bag had yet to be knotted so hopefully the worst happened.

  • I’ve tried to report problems before, only to be told by the complaints office that they need the drivers badge number, it doesnt matter if I have the licencse plate and the exact time and location of the pickup and dropoff? however most of the sketchy drivers hide there badges and refuse to show them upon request which is illegal and frustrating as hell!!

    Can someone(im too lazy) please start blog which people can voice the ridiculous stunts they see cab drivers pulling daily?? Maybe that’ll shame the commission into getting there thumb out of their *ss!!

  • When I lived on the Hill, I frequently hailed cabs from Dupont to go home late at night after bar hopping. At first, I would tell the cabdriver where I was going before I entered the cab and usually got shot down or they sped off. I learned to hail and jump in without saying a word. And while he was starting to drive off… I would slowly say… 1..3..2..0. Norrrth Carrrrolina Ave NORTHEAST. By then we would be down the block and he’d have no choice but to keep on driving.

    Anyhow, lessons I’ve learned living in this wonderful city. I will admit I hate most DC cabbies. I’ve had many bad experiences.

  • Anyone know of a cab company to call for pickups in the Fort Totten area? I’ve been batting about .175 on dispatches. From this thread, it seems like this is common enough.

    • Good luck. I live about 5 blocks west of Fort Totten, and often fly out of DCA early on a Sunday or Monday morning. I used to call Diamond cab, and had pretty good luck with them, but the last two times I called them the night before and set up a pick up time, no one showed up. The second time, I called after waiting about 20 minutes, was told someone was enroute…then called back 20 minutes later, only to be told “we are trying to find someone who’ll take your fare.” WTF? I ended up driving to DCA and barely making my plane. Diamond lost my business forever.

  • In regards to OP number 2: Really, you never had a problem with Diamond Cab before? They are absolutely the worst most unprofessional company I have ever dealt with. I would sooner walk to any part of the city than give those losers a dollar.

  • This is standard procedure at 3am everywhere in town. you compete for cabs. you share with strangers. its a bonding experience/ sport.

  • I live in Brookland also. If the door is not locked, I do not say my destination until I am in the car with the door shut. If the door is locked, I tell the driver I am going near 13th and Rhode Island. Then, once I am in the car, I add in the “Northeast, past the home depot” part. If they say they aren’t sure how to get there, I say, “That’s okay, I’ll show you.” I always give a big tip to the drivers who take me without any complaint and thank them for not hassling me about the location. I give no tip to any driver who gives me a hard time and let him know why after I have exited the cab.

  • i feel your pain. try catching a cab at benning & east capitol.

  • #whitepeople problems. at least you can hail a cab.

    (I realize the possibility that the OP is not a white person, but also realize that the mere act of being able to *hail* a cab and get the driver to talk to you is very difficult for many people of color in this city).

    • +10000 again. Doesn’t excuse what happened but there is also a bit of “welcome to my world.”

      Reminds me of a show Michael Moore did where he had a black guy and a white guy stand on a street in NYC and both try to hail a cab. Black guy was “upstream” of the white guy. Cab after cab passed by the black guy to pick up the white guy. Funny thing was the white guy had served time in jail for robbing and murdering a cab driver and the black guy was a prize winning writer.

  • I live in Ledroit Park, next to Florida, west of Rhode Island, and yet cabs would not come if we call them. They say they are dispatching but no show up. This is just 3 blocks away from U street corridor, and Diamond Cab have their HQ 5 blocks down Rhode Island! Insane.

    • I’ve had the same problem. I live just on the edge of Ledroit Park and Bloomingdale yet somtimes its impossible to get a cab to take me from U st to home (I only do this late at night and when im by myself)

      However, I will say that I have had some great cabbies take me. Once a cabbie even asked if I would be safe where he was dropping me off. For that I upped his tip $5 from normal.

  • I’ve actually had really good luck with MATS for pickups from Columbia Heights. As a bonus, you can book online, and they’ll email you a receipt with the time and location of the pickup. They’ve arrived either on time or up to 5 minutes early every time I’ve used them.

  • The taxi commission’s website says you need all kinds of information, but all you need is the license plate number. I filed a complaint in late July regarding a taxi cab driver who refused to take my girlfriend and I from the Trader Joe’s in Foggy Bottom to my house Brookland. We were able to jot down his license plate number on our phones and included it in our complaint (along with all of the basic facts).

    The commission sent me a form email shortly after I sent the complaint. Then, just a few days ago, I received a three sentence email from a woman at the commission:

    “Driver was found responsible for refusal to haul. Mediation held driver responsible for the violation. Driver agreed to pay fine $250.00.”

    I was surprised and pleased. File your complaint!

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