Dear PoPville – Anyone Noticing a Cab Shortage?


Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

Dear PoPville,

For about two months, my friends and I have experienced an extreme difficulty in finding taxis after midnight on weekends. We live in the U Street area, so normally cabs have been plentiful and we’ve never had to wait too long for one. Lately, however, my friends who live in Chinatown have managed to walk all the way home without seeing a single unoccupied taxi. I experienced this myself this last Saturday when I left the northern end of Adams Morgan, walked down 18th, turned onto U, and made it all the way to 9th without ever seeing a free cab. I don’t mind walks, but it was pretty late, and I was freezing!

Is something going on that anyone else has noticed? I asked a cab driver, and he told me that wasn’t possible, and that no person ever has to wait more then 15 minutes for a cab – even after midnight. Clearly, he was wrong, but I’m really hoping that this period of difficulty has been a fluke rather than a sign of things to come.

50 Comment

  • Nope, haven’t noticed it, they don’t stop for me… I’m a black man.

    (Insert “Conveniently Placed” Uber Promotional Comments Below)

    • Normally I’m one of those Uber promoters, but lately they haven’t had cars available either. Three times in the past week there have been “no cars available” when I requested one- neither the taxi or black car service.

  • T

    We don’t have cabs in Petworth normally, so I’m not sure what you mean…

  • I wonder if they’ve been temporarily scared off, due to all the recent violence in that area.

  • I’ve noticed it too in the U Street area the last few times I’ve been trying to catch one or put a friend in a cab.

    Then again, it’s been really cold lately. Cabs are used more frequently in the winter months. Even late into the autumn it’s really warm, people are more likely to walk manageable distances, and cabs are more plentiful.

  • Could be due to the African Nation’s Cup – matches would be live at about that time …

  • I always have a hard time finding a cab on U Street. Often it’s because of 9:30 Club + limited parking = nightmare finding enough cabs for everyone.

  • I think you answered your own question. I’m sure people are more inclined to walk in nicer weather rather than freezing temps and rain. Demand rises = less cabs.

  • They are all in getting their credit card meters installed…

  • They are all in the cab parking lot, I mean gas station, on the corner of 15th and U St. You walked right past there and did not see one?

  • I took uber over the weekend from the DuPont Hilton to 11th and u and it was $18. I’m over über for now.

  • Fools! What did you think would happen when your Yuppie “war on cabs” was allowed to decimate our ranks?!? Your drive to force “standards” and “modern technology” upon the ranks of hardworking, selfless cab drivers has finally started forcing us to new professions. You didn’t know how good you had it back when we had the zone system. You all knew when we were trying to scam you and called us on it. The only people who suffered were idiots and clueless tourists. Now that we have to treat everyone equally, it’s not worth it. Just wait until they force credit card readers on us. There won’t be a cab left in the city!! You will rue the day!!!

  • I live in the U St area too, and don’t know what you’re talking about. Cabs are aplenty, except for right about that time when all the clubs let out, but that’s nothing new. Also, there are apps for that. MyTaxi, etc.

  • I think H Street NE has pulled a lot of taxis out of the “NW orbit” they would have stayed in a few years back. I moved to H Street in 2010 and cabs were never around. There are tons now – especially in the evenings and over the weekend.

    • That’s b/c you can’t get anywhere to/from H Street NE without a cab… I have options in NW

      • What does you having options have to do with there being a shortage of cabs around U Street? Please, use your reading comprehension skills and at least TRY to stay on topic.

      • “you can’t get anywhere to/from H Street NE without a cab”

        That’s how we keep the riff-raff to a minimum. :)

  • I took an Amtrak back into town late Friday night, and when I got outside Union Station there was a long, long taxi line and absolutely NO taxis. For at least five minutes. Only a few came over the next 10 minutes I waited for my Uber. It seemed weird, but my Uber driver suggested that a lot of cab drivers might stay home when the roads are icy – if their cars are damaged, that’s money lost for them.

    • This happens almost every single night at Union Station and has for years and years. It’s just that 200 people will get off the train from New York at 1 am and want a cab and there won’t be 200 waiting. But then by 1:30 a.m. there will be nobody there until the 2 am train arrives.

  • I have a feeling you are not black. If you were you wouldn’t be asking this question. I am a black woman and every time, every time, every time I make the decision to take a cab, I take a deep and accept the fact that I am about to be humiliated.

    • Incredibly sad and incredibly true. Even when I’m wearing a suit during the day, I’m hesitant to raise my hand to try and catch a cab.

      • Don’t feel bad, they get us Caucasians too. I live in Bloomingdale and have them pass me by all the time when I am trying to get to Logan or Dupont. Drivers with lights on in the left lane driving when the curb where people wait is by the right lane, stupid. Drivers with lights on day dreaming looking straight ahead and not even glancing to the curb to see me flailing my arms like a drowning man, cabs with no passengers and no lights flying by but stopping a block away for somebody else.

        I did get two honest truths out of a cabbie this weekend, he told me cabbies will fight the credit card machines because it keeps a record of money coming in and they will have to pay more taxes on it, now they can cheat the system and save thousands. Cabbies with their lights off will stop and pick up fares if they like the way you look, with the light off you can’t video phone them passing you by so gets them off the hook. That’s what he told me!

  • I live on U Street and probably havent used a taxi in 8 months. I try to check the bus schedules and use them when I can. However, that is not always possible. Either there are fewer taxis or more people using them. What I have noticed is there are tons of more pedestrians on U Street than when I moved there a few years ago.

  • Given the huge unemployment rate in Wards 7 and 8 and apparent need for more cabs, why don’t many of the unemployed get hacker licenses?

    • Allison

      I’m guessing they can’t afford the initial outlay for all the licensing, getting a car, etc. Expensive to become a cabbie.

    • It’s amazing how utterly clueless people are about being poor.

      Yeah, they should just become cab drivers. Brilliant. Jesus…..

  • Because this question is anecdotal, I’ll give my anecdotal answer: I haven’t noticed one. Last weekend, I got a cab outside of Shaw’s Tavern in no time. A few weeks before that, I got one a few blocks away at like 8th with about 10 minutes of waiting to see an empty one cruise up. Hmm…

  • No, but has anyone else noticed that they all seem to be driving extremely slow now?

    • Allison

      I’m not sure if MPD has been cracking down on cabs, but a few weeks ago I saw numerous cabs getting pulled over. As someone who has had a few close calls with giant, multiple lane, traffic stopping illegal U-turns, I was a little glad.

  • DC suspended hack licenses YEARS ago. So NO the poor people can not become cab drivers.

  • On the flip side, it used to be a pain to catch a cab around Columbia Heights, but they are everywhere now.

  • There is ALWAYS at least one double parked on 9th Street between T and U Streets.

  • figby

    I have also noticed them more around Eckington and LeDroit, which used to be no-cab zones. So maybe part of the answer is gentrification has increased what cabs would consider likely territory?

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