Taxi Protest on Pennsylvania Ave – Steer Clear


Thanks to @SDanger_Mackay for tweeting us the photo above and @jhschein for tweeting us the photo below:

“cabs “protesting”. Stay clear of PA Ave.”


145 Comment

  • is this legal to do?

  • god damned elitist hipster cyclists blocking traffic with their critical mass – oh wait, never mind.

  • lmao
    if anything they should be protested

    • Maybe I can find the cab that fraudulently charged me $120 in there. Hey, if someone is around, ask them “where are you going?” since they like to illegally ask patrons on the street.

      • Probably hanging out with the one that tried to rape me and the other that kidnapped me for 20 minutes for the sake of racking up the fare.
        Really, I don’t see how they could be losing so much business to Uber when most of us stopped taking cabs long before Uber was on the scene.

        • Maybe they’re friends with the one who lectured me because “black people are the worst customers” for my entire ride and then got upset when I tipped him terribly for being rude to me–again, for the entire ride.

          • And the two that got mad at me for idling in “their” spot in front of my partner’s office building, and started screaming about how I need to respect them because I’m a woman (WTF?).

          • I had him or his twin brother. “What’s wrong with Black Americans?”

            I asked him, “what’s wrong with the people in your homeland?”

      • I had my first non-illegal cab ride last weekend after living in DC for 7 years. To be fair I don’t take cabs much, but SERIOUSLY cabs in the city are deplorable.

  • I’ll just tell my Uber driver to go around it.

    • Assuming he could even find his way. I’m not sure what I hate more, obnoxious and shady cabbies, or Uber/Lyft drivers who don’t even know their way around town and break traffic laws.

      Seriously, I’ve taken Uber 3 times; I had one guy go wrong way down a 1-way street and run a red, and another make me walk 2 blocks to his car because he couldn’t figure out how to use his GPS to find the house.

  • so useless. only makes consumers more want to avoid taxis even more.

  • I work on Pennsylvania and the cabs have been laying on their horns all morning. Any sympathy I had for them has been completely lost.

  • I wish they would put this much effort into continuing to improve their services. Then I’d probably want to use them more often. Weird how that works.

    • Totally agree. Had DC cabs not fought zone pricing, embraced credit cards, cleaned up their cabs, not refused to pick up some passengers, and not refused to take all passengers to where they wanted to go this would never have been an issue.

  • This occurred in London a week or so back…

  • lindz0722

    Ridiculous. I work at 13th & F NW… am hearing so much honking from people (and, it appears, protesting cabs) trying to go east on F Street, or south on 13th towards Pennsylvania.

    Anon @12:05 — Legal, probably, but isn’t Pennsylvania an emergency route? It doesn’t seem safe.

  • We’re the ones that should be protesting, If their service didn’t suck I’d have some sympathy.

    • This is the stupidest protest I’ve ever seen. Are they taking tips from the music industry’s fight against Napster? They’ve had a monopoly over the taxi system for years and have resisted basic consumer demands like clean cabs and credit cards, all the while steadily increasing fares. Quit giving the middle finger to your customers and consider why services like Uber are so popular.

  • Well if the cab drivers want sympathy from the public, blocking a major thoroughfare all day with their vehicles and inconveniencing everybody who wants or needs to get through downtown is an EXCELLENT way to get it! I really feel for them now!
    And thanks for the heads up, PoP – I’ll pass this along to my Uber driver when he gets here in his clean, safe, less-expensive Toyota to take me where I want to go!

  • Um honeys, strikes only really work when you have singular control over whatever market you’re in — like say utilities or public transit. When you don’t, striking just makes more people use your competition, i.e. Uber/Lyft etc because your service is not available.

  • A similar thing happened overseas and Uber memberships shot through the roof.

    I hope the same thing happens in this case.

    • Good point. If you think this is dumb, and are fed up with the cabs in this town, please sign up for one of the rideshare companies. You don’t have to use it, but a spike in memberships should say something.

  • Yeah, this is insane. I wish I had known about this so I could go down and protest them. Cab drivers in this town deserve all of the scorn they receive.

  • I think that the taxi drivers got the misconception that they were in France.

    • +1

      I always wondered why taxi drivers in the US hadn’t figured this out. They’re amazing at causing mass disruption in France.

  • austindc

    I stopped taking taxis in DC years ago because so many of them seem to be unsafe drivers. Seems like some things just don’t change. I will stick with Uber and Car2Go.

    • maxwell smart

      Agreed. I usually find the cab drivers are facetiming on their phone with 3 various other GPS, phone, screen devices also running at the same time.

    • No joke. I had a cabbie reading the Obamacare factsheet while driving down Tilden x Conn.

      I told him that in addition to dealing with medical bills, he’d be dealing with my lawsuit if we crash.

  • I don’t understand what this has to do with the World Cup.

  • All of those cabs densely packed together will make it difficult for them to individually veer across multiple lanes of traffic while randomly changing speeds.

    • This made me laugh. So true. Somehow they are among the worst drivers on the road (insert Maryland plate joke).

      • on North Capitol right before Michigan a taxi cab, with Maryland plates slammed right into a light pole this morning. Needless to say I was not surprised.

  • I haven’t taken a DC cab for at least three years and have no plans to. Anyone who has come into Union Station after midnight will see how corrupt DC cabs are and how much they flaunt the laws. I’d love for the DCTC to hire more hack inspectors and to check cabs 24/7.

    • How do they flaunt the law at Union Station? Every cab I’ve picked up from there seems to operate just fine.

      • Ah, Anonymous! I wish I had your experience. Late at night when the dispatchers are off duty, taxis take passengers at their discretion and refuse rides even more than usual. I’ve been told no one would take me to downtown Silver Spring because they can’t pick up another fare quickly. I’ve been forced to ride with 2 other fares. The cabbie attempted to make me pay for the entire fare even though the other two passengers had paid their share when they were dropped off. Union Station late at night is disorganized and infuriating. It’s been at least 2 years since I’ve experienced it because I try to avoid it all costs.

        • Yup. The one time I got in late there, it was a free for all with cabbies telling people they would only go certain places and only take multiple people at once. I only lived a mile away but didn’t want to walk at that hour, so took a cab. The cab had the audacity to take a street that ran SE when I lived directly east of Union Station, meaning he added in many extra blocks and had to do a big loop to get onto my block since it is one way going south. We straight up told him which way to take and he refused saying it took longer that way.

        • To be fair, Silver Spring is a ghost town after the sun goes down. It is equally bad when you are in Silver Spring trying to find a cab back into the city.

          • But, it’s part of the job. I understand they can’t pick up another fare easily, but they also get a pretty big one from my ride, and a larger tip when they don’t give me any trouble about my location. I live on the border of DC/MD, so turning around and getting to Mt. Pleasant/Columbia Heights only takes 10 minutes (assuming they speed because they typically do). I’m lucky to have other transportation options, but there are times when a cab would be more convenient. Unfortunately, their customer service keeps me from using them.

        • Another point to remember is that cab sharing by unrelated passengers (headed in the same general direction) is still permitted at Union Station, under the old rules where each person pays her or his own fare in full. So although the drivers were wrong to not take you on as a passenger, it is still permitted that they take other passengers as well. (Exactly how they calculate the different fares with a meter not the zone system is a mystery to me, though; I would probably try to negotiate that at the start.)

      • justinbc

        Yeah, I’ve never once had an issue with a cab in DC, not even a minor one. Even when I lived in Old Town I still had no problem getting them to take me there. It was annoying when they didn’t take credit cards, sure, but ever since they’ve been required to I’ve never had one give me the “it’s broken” line (the one whose actually appeared broken was about to give me a free ride too, before it went through on the second swipe). I realize that they are a massive PITA for many citizens, but for many others they seem to function just fine.

        • You are one lucky man. Seriously, I have taken a lot of cabs in DC. 90% of the rides have been fine (if you don’t count the dirty, dilapidated cars). I have also encountered some drivers who were real a-holes or little better than thieves.

          • skj84

            Yeah, I’ve had some doozies in regards to cab rides. Refusal to pick me up, refusal to take me to Maryland(I once had a cab driver pull over to the side of the road and get out of the cab rather than take me to Maryland. Another laughed in my face when I tried to get a cab home at 3:00am in Adams Morgan.) refuse to allow credit cards, cabbies who burned incense in the cab, cabbies who didn’t know where they were going, etc… I’m not saying all cab drivers are bad. I’ve had some good experiences, The one driver who drove me home gratis after a particularly bad night out and I was in terrible shape. But he was my second driver that night, the first tried to charge me a flat rate home instead of running the meter and I got into a fight with him. I’m fed up with worrying if I will get home when I’m out late. Uber has been good so far and my money will go to them

        • It does help considerably that you’re a white male!

          • justinbc

            Yeah, I realize that definitely helps with getting picked up.

          • And the way you’re treated once you get picked up. I’ll bet you’re never had a cabbie drive you to a deserted parking lot, grab your arm, and try to stick his hand down your pants before.

          • justinbc

            You would be absolutely correct in that regard, thankfully so.

          • wonder what is going to happen when an UBER driver tries to rape someone. HEADS will explode!!!!

          • customers who have sex with uber drivers is an underreported story.

          • justinbc

            “wonder what is going to happen when an UBER driver tries to rape someone. HEADS will explode!!!!”
            That’s already happened multiple times, in DC and other cities.

          • I never understood why the Uber rape phenomenon is discussed as such a huge selling point for non-Uber ride services. Doesn’t Uber have some of the most sophisticated ways to track who the driver is? If a regular cabbie raped me, I wouldn’t have any idea how to find him, but with Uber, it’s clearly documented who the driver is.

        • I’m with Justin – I take cabs regularly and I can’t remember ever having a problem. I’ve had great conversations with many cab drivers over the years.

        • saf

          Wow. I have had 2 good cab experiences in DC. All the others have been horrible.

        • …said no one ever.

    • FLOUT the law. Flaunting the law is actually sort of hard to do, and pretty weird.

  • Uber from now on.

  • When cabdrivers stop discriminating on the basis of race, I’ll start having sympathy for them.

  • justinbc

    So what exactly are they protesting?

  • Well, this is basically the only area that cab drivers are willing to go…

  • Genuine question – does anyone have a sense of what cabbies earn in take home pay per hour in DC? I’ve asked numerous Uber drivers – their answers seems to average about $70-80 bucks per hour in take home pay. I wonder why more cabbies don’t switch over to being Uber drivers?

    • Wow, that’s a pretty impressive rate. That must be fantastic for the students that use UberX for employment.

    • Maybe because then they have to be held accountable for their actions?

      • You’re referring to Uber drivers being held accountable through their rating system? Because cab drivers are not held accountable in the least. I had one try to run me off the road on my bike. Came up behind honking, passed too close, then rolled down his window and yelled at me to get off the road. I took down his plate and cab #, and called it into the DC Taxi Commission, asking them to record the complaint in a file so that if there was a pattern they could catch it the next time his licence came up for renewal. They laughed, refused, and referred me to the cops. The cops said it was too late — I would have had to stay at the scene and call it in from there (impossible if I wanted to get the numbers).

        I hate the cabbies because ~50% of them are the worst drivers on the road in DC.

        • That’s what I mean. Plus if they sexually assault someone the victim has a name and a vehicle and it should be easy to track the guy down.

    • that doesn’t seem plausible.

      • It’s possible that the drivers I talked with tend to drive during peak demand times, wherein they have little downtime and often benefit from surge pricing. Even if it’s $40/hr, a full time driver working 40hrs a week would pull in $80k+ a year. I have a hard time believing that cabbies make that much.

        • i have a very hard time believing that uber drivers are pulling in near six figures.

          • The last guy I had this discussion with worked UberX on Fridays, Saturdays, and some Sundays only – he worked at Northrup Grumman as his day job during the week. He said he pulled down roughly $400/week take home from working 2.5 days/week on average. Granted, those are the prime days to drive, but the guy had no reason to lie or inflate the figures to me. He seemed genuinely pleased that he was taking home an extra $1600 a month for relatively low-stress work. I don’t think most of the drivers do this as a full-time job, so yeah they probably aren’t pulling down six figures off of Uber alone. But still, that’s good money.

          • I’d be interested to see what kind of mileage these drivers rack up. The wear and tear on your car can’t be good, though I guess you could deduct the depreciation on your taxes.

          • But they’re self employed. After expenses, self-employment and income taxes, they’re left with half that.

  • Someone from the Taxi Commission should go down there and fine all the cabs with non-standard paint jobs. Easy pickings.

  • While I support Uber/Lyft and use those services more than taxis, I do understand the sentiment that taxis are now unfairly regulated as compared to uberX etc. All of the negative experiences people describe with taxis are certainly valid, but I’ve had plenty of taxi drivers (I’d say 95%) that were perfectly pleasant and clean. (Although the racist sentiments and denial of service issues do exist and need to be addressed and enforced strictly).

    I have a solution!

    The city should contract with approved dispatch services like uber and let them take over the regulation of these vehicles, whether they be taxis or ubers. They can conduct background checks, cleanliness checks, and meter pricing according to size of each car.

    • Or….just let the market work. They don’t need to be regulated by the government – aggregated user satisfaction determines whether or not they can drive. So perhaps the solution is really for the best cabbies to buy late model Toyota Corollas and be Uber drivers. Seems far more efficient than burdening a functioning enterprise with numerous satisfied clients with this detritus.

      • Taxis in DC are terrible, but the problem is not over regulation. It’s that for too long, the cabbies controlled the regulators, and we ended up with a system rife with the problems regulation is supposed to solve–rip-offs, dangerous vehicles, etc.

        • My overarching point is that the whole Taxi Commission system is unnecessary. It’s an anachronism. With trusted brokers in the form of Uber/Lyft,/etc. there is no safety imperative for government involvement.

          • Just because Uber provides a good service does not mean that regulation is unnecessary.

          • Yep, exactly. And KenyonDweller needs to elaborate, because right now his/her comment is nothing more than an unsupported assertion.

            Here’s how taxis should work: have brands. Taxi gives you bad service, don’t use that brand again, just as with any other good. There was little reason for the sector to be regulated even pre-Uber, and now there is zero reason.

          • And how do you propose that all taxis will have brands unless a regulation requires it. Visit any third world country, and you will see how an unregulated taxi market works. It’s not pretty, and that’s how it used to be in this country a hundred years ago before regulations. In fact, it’s a lot like DC taxis because the regulatory system here has been broken.
            Uber may be a good actor, but a lack of regulation gives free reign to the bad actors. DC has roughly 900 cabs per 100,000 people, the highest rate of any major U.S. city (and roughly four times NY). Uber is not going replace that. The market would be unlikely to put out of business the hundreds of cab drivers who trolling the streets looking for unsuspecting tourists or residents desperate for a ride.

          • When I need a cab, I’m usually hailing it on the corner. I probably will not have time to research “brands” before I get into a cab, putting my safety into the hands of that driver and his vehicle. So, yes, I want some regulation of those providing this type of service.

        • I don’t actually think regulation is the problem (and it normally isn’t in any context). The problem is the cabbies are no following the rules and no one is enforcing it. If you look at the dc customer rights that the cabs are supposed to follow, but do not, it is everything that Uber does – and thats why we use them.

      • The market lacks information here and thus isn’t working too well right now. Uber drivers are effectively uninsured, as Uber does everything it can to avoid liability (“driver isn’t an employee,” “driver wasn’t driving for uber at the time,” whatever it takes), and in most cases a driver’s private insurance is void if the driver is transporting passengers for a fee. In an accident, the uber driver gets f*ed, passengers get f*cked, and innocent third parties involved in an accident with an uber driver also get f*cked. In the general case I’m all for letting the market work, but sometimes when there is a major asymmetry of information, the market doesn’t work right and ends up hurting people.

        • This actually is not correct at all…check your facts.

          • Checked. Done. However, you seem to have different facts. This is important stuff that people really need to know about. Please do not withhold your facts. If I am wrong, do all of your fellow readers a favor and present the correct facts, rather than simply asserting that I am wrong.

  • I’m eagerly awaiting the Uber press release on the percentage increase in ridership for today compared to a usual Wednesday. I’d say the cabbies are shooting themselves in the foot on this one, but I think they ran out of feet to shoot at a long time ago.

  • Liberte, egalite, fraternite! They will make their point if they block 14th street bridge and all other bridges after 3pm today. I’ve never had problems with DC cab drivers….they all been awfully nice in the past 7 years.

  • Where is the protest against regulated cabs ignoring large swathes of the city?
    Where is the protest against regulated cabs asking where you’re going before you get in?
    Where is the protest against regulated cabs discriminating by race?
    Where is the protest against regulated cabs sexually assaulting passengers?
    Where is the protest against regulated cabs discriminating by race?
    Where is the protest against regulated cabs long hauling tourists?
    Where is the protest against regulated cabs refusing the accept credit cards?

  • Dinosaurs. Hey cabbies, remember all those you screwed me over? The failed pickups, the refusals to take me as a fare because it wasn’t somewhere convenient for you, the years of cash-only service and never having change, the talking nonstop to your friends and family while driving, the countless times you’ve nearly killed me on my bicycle, the times you tried to throw on a bag charge for my laptop bag, the time one of you threw me out of a cab for questioning that bag fee? That’s why you have no sympathy. Nobody to blame but yourselves. Thank god for Uber.

    • co-signed. and add the times you didn’t come to a scheduled pick up to take me to the airport, the times you lied about how many zones we crossed until challenged, the times you slowed down to catch every light when you were metered, the times you yelled at me when I had the temerity to politely suggest a better route, the times you slyly tried to use the more expensive snow rate when it wasn’t snowing. The good news is you got me into using healthier options like biking and walking.

    • Give it time; Uber is just as bad or worse, in my experience.

    • Yeah, the times I’ve had to knock on neighbor’s doors to see if someone could run me to the Megabus departure spot because my cab didn’t show, so stressful!

  • Wait a minute, if they’re all clogging Penn Avenue like this, how are they going to reach their daily quota of illegal u turns through the cycle track?

  • They did this to themselves. I can’t tell you how many times they have turned down my service – now they are protesting when we use someone else? They really need a reality check. If they actually improved their service, people would continue to use them. Until then, I’m going to choose the ride that does not refuse to take me where I am going, takes my credit card, and doesn’t yell at me for no apparent reason.

  • I lost all remaining respect for DC cabs 2 years ago when my girlfriend and I had to get out a mile early from our destination because the cabbie drove through a construction zone with no shocks. Let the market run its course. I’m perfectly happy with Uber.

  • Just curious as to how much Uber, Lyft, and other competitors made during this protest? For the love of Zeus, even Dominoes Pizza did some self reflection and made some “changes” based on their poor customer service feedback.

  • The entities who lost my business to Uber were Metrobus/rail, the companies that make my shoes, and perhaps a robber waiting to attack pedestrians late at night. I’ve been boycotting cabs for so long that I’d learned to adapt so I’d never need their flawed services.

  • Good riddance. Here’s for every time I’ve called any of the largest DC cab companies for a pre-dawn airport run, and been left stranded.

  • The grass is always greener in someone else’s lawn. As the rideshare companies have gotten a larger share of the pie, they’ve also received more complaints. There have been allegations of sexual assaults against customers, and people who were in accidents and were left with medical bills that remained unpaid because of disputes over insurance coverage. Not saying it’s the rule, but you shouldn’t assume that just because you can call up a car on your iPhone, you’re going to get a safe ride everytime. That said, the rideshare companies have brought much needed competition into the taxi market. Hopefully, the existing participants will step up their game rather than try to keep out the competition – because that ship has sailed already.

  • Ineptitude writ large. Good luck to these ass-hats. Talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…

  • So is it safe to assume this is only happening on Pennsylvania Ave NW, since cab drivers refuse to go to SE?

  • Maybe I’m the only person in the city who has an affinity for DC cab drivers – they are kind, hard working, well informed, give great advice, and every time I think about leaving the city, I realize I’ll miss them too much. In my six years in the District, I have had exactly one semi-uncomfortable experience. I will continue to support them over Uber any day of the week. Even if I’m the only one.

    I have taken Uber only a handful of times, and I just find it so unnecessary and almost comical to arrive anywhere in a black town car. And don’t get my started on Uber X — those drivers have no idea where they are going, and I end up having to direct them from the backseat!

    I know that calling for a car on your phone is a great service and very helpful for many people, but I have found that the HAIL-O app works incredibly well and always gets me a cab within a few minutes. (Except in the morning when it’s my own damn fault for running late).

    But that’s also why I have a bicycle!

    • bizzarre

    • You very well might be the only one. There have been far too many times where DC cab drivers have tried to screw me over, or actually successfully did so. Attempting to take routes that go way out of the way to jack up the fare, refusing to take me to my destination unless I paid an exorbitant amount because they would have a hard time picking up fares on the way back, and simply not showing up when I’ve made a reservation.

      And I’m a white, able bodied man. I’ve heard the horror stories of minorities and disabled people who were outright refused service. A gay friend was kicked out of the cab the other day when he told the driver that he was going to a gay marriage rally.

      I have zero sympathy for an industry that has spent decades in this city taking advantage of the public at every chance they get, and get upset once they have actual competition.

    • That’s not exactly the same thing everyone else is complaining about, though.

      I find Hailo to be sort of a cross between Uber and regular taxi drivers. You get to hail them from the cab, and you also pay with your phone, which eliminates the “my credit card machine is broken” argument. Also, you rate the taxi drivers, and I find the Hailo CSR to be much more responsive than DCTC.

      The good thing with Hailo is, though yes they are DC taxi drivers, they are more closely vetted, and they always seem to know where they are going (unlike my experience with UberX). If all DC taxi drivers were vetted like Hailo drivers, I would be happy to hail one off the street. As it is, I will try Hailo first, and if I can’t get them, it’s onto Uber.

      • This! I always use Hail-O. Those cab drivers tend to be nicer, have cleaner cars, know where they are going, and don’t ask me where I’m going before I get in. Plus I feel safer having their info right there on my phone. But, like you, if I can’t get a Hail-O, I use Uber (though, never uberx).

    • This is truly one of the weirdest posts I have ever read on this website. You don’t want to leave DC because you’ll miss the cab drivers too much? What a strange thing to say. I could even understand it if you just kind of said you normally get good service from cabs, but your effusive praise makes me think you’re either deranged or you have friends/family who drive cabs and you’re here to defend them.

  • I used Uber X twice, and both times we had to give the guys directions. They were NOT professional drivers The taxi drivers hailed through Uber on the other hand were absolute pros. The reason I like Uber is that i couldn’t get a taxi to pick me up in my neighborhood to save my life. I’d call, they’d say someone was on their way, and then the cab would never show up. At least when you hail a taxi through Uber you can see if someone’s actually coming. I only ever call taxis through it now, and I’ve been incredibly happy with it. I love the Uber taxi drivers – if a driver will talk to me, I always want to talk to them and have asked a few about their experiences with Uber. Most have said that THEY feel safer picking up in certain areas if hailed by an Uber user. I know there are all kinds of problems with that too, but it’s a perspective that I know some of the taxi drivers do have. I’m not well-versed in all of the protestors’ problems yet, but another thing one of them said is that they like that they can drop someone off in a neighborhood and almost immediatey have another call close by instead of returning to, say, Union Station… dunno. I love LOVE uber for hailing taxis. I HATE Uber X.

  • agree w/all that I have no sympathy w/DC cabs and they did this to themselves. As a 13 year resident, I have more horror stories than I can remember. And don’t forget, it was only in the past several years they even switched to meters! Remember the zoning system? Nothing worse than having a cabbie charge you an outrageous, made up price at your destination and have no recourse. One time a cabbie tried to lock me inside when I refused to pay his ridiculous price until I started calling the cops. This type of behavior was so common. Plus not having an app, taking credit cards, being clean, etc.

  • I have never had a problem with a DC cab.

  • On behalf on all black men that have had to deal with cabs treating us like pure shit for far too many years, I say to all of the perpetrators of said discrimination in the words of the great philosopher Nelson Muntz: “HAHA”!!



    Karma’s a bitch ain’t it. Well you reap what you sow.

    • But to all the good ones who I find quite intelligent, I am so sorry you have to be caught up in all of the BS.

  • Funny, I thought they were always on strike, based on that they never show up when I call dispatch…

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