Taxi Protest Downtown Causing Backups


A reader sends the photo above from H Street, NW.

From @DCPoliceDept:

“Traffic Advisory: Rolling Street Closures due Demonstrators (Taxicabs) leaving from East Potomac Park to Freedom Plaza. Expect delays.”

“Traffic Advisory: Rolling Street Closures due Demonstrators (Taxicabs) moving W/B across 23rd & Independence. Expect delays”

“Traffic Advisory: Rolling Street Closures due to Demonstrators (Taxicabs) moving on Independence Ave. Traffic flow maybe slow.”

Ed. Note: We last saw a large taxi protest back in June.

“Traffic Advisory: Rolling Street Closures due to Demonstrators (Taxicabs) E/B 1300 Block of Pennsylvania, NW closed temporarily”

77 Comment

  • More great PR making people want to take taxis more /s

  • hear ye hear ye taxi cabs:
    slowing down traffic in a traffic logged city will only make people hate you more.

  • Ok, I agree that Uber should be regulated similar to cabs. It’s silly to call Uber ride-share. There’s no sharing involved; it’s a cab service so it should be regulated like one. I also think Uber needs to pay its drivers more.

    THAT BEING SAID, cabs are losing business to Uber largely because Uber is simply better at providing cab service than traditional cabs are. Simple competition. Protesting isn’t going to help. Maybe they should try consistently offering credit card readers, stop avoiding black passengers, and get yourself a goddamn app!

    • This assumes that the current regulations for taxi cabs are sensible for drivers and customers, which they most definitely are not. Uber shouldn’t have to be under those regulations when those regulations are stupid.

      • Which regulations do you think are stupid? The ones that protect consumers from price gouging? Or the ones requiring a thorough background check (much more thorough than the ones Uber does)?

      • Which regulations are stupid? Really asking.
        Also, MMkay – while Uber may provide better service than traditional cabs (debatable if you ask me; I’ve had bad experiences with both), the cost of complying with regulations that may or may not be sensible doubtless eats into traditional cab drivers’ profits and affects the level of service they can afford to provide: how much of a rush they’re in, the amount of money they have to reinvest in maintaining their vehicles, etc. If cabs from competing with Uber on a level playing field, that DOES seem worth protesting.

    • I mostly agree with you, but I think they’re losing a lot of business due to cost. UberX is cheaper than a cab, so I take it. If it wasn’t, I would take a taxi every single time. UberX is cheaper because costs are lower, so I think taxis’ complaints are legitimate.
      Also, in case people aren’t aware of it, taxis also have an app called Hailo. It’s great, and right now they’re offering 50% off taxis from 10-4.

      • Probably because, with the protest, you have no chance of actually GETTING a cab between 10 and 4. And even if you do, they’ll still make bank because you’ll be stuck in the gridlock. Love ya, DCTC!

      • I use Hailo more frequently than Uber now. With the surge charging, I never know what the price will be and a taxi via Hailo usually ends up being cheaper during busy hours.

        • How do you never know what the price would be? It always notifies you when surge is in effect (and what the multiplier is) and you can request a price quote right in the app.

          • How does one do a price quote? You can only get it after you’ve gotten in Uber? If so, that sort of defeats the purpose of the price quote.
            In my experience, I see a random Surge multiplier – that’s not a transparent price. I have no idea what the price will end up being until the ride is done. At least with a taxi I know the set mileage rate and can approximate within $1 what the final price is. For instance, from H Street to U Street costs around $15 in a taxi at any time of day. On Uber, it’s ranged from $12 to $35, depending on Surge multiplier. Hell, the first time I used Uber I was charged $40 after a show at Echoplex to get back to Adams Morgan at 2am! I had no idea that was the price until I opened my email the next day. The Surge multiplier is a vague metric used to hide the price of the ride, IMHO.

          • Ally

            You can get the price quote BEFORE booking the Uber. You click on the black box and pretend like you’re ordering, but, before you confirm, simply click on Price Quote and plug in your destination. Note, my experience has been that — both for the UberX and the Uber Black — that the cited quote will tend to be higher than the actual cost if you’re staying in the city, but lower if you’re headed out to Bethesda or the burbs.

      • Note that it’s only 50% of the Hailo fee, not 50% off the cab fare itself

    • This pretty much sums up my views. I don’t agree with Uber’s right wing anti-regulatory agenda, but I use them anyway because DC cabs suck so badly. It’s not the regulations that make them suck, it’s the drivers, who somehow feel entitled to provide poor service with a shitty attitude. Screwing up traffic does not further their cause.

      • Why do you think they need regulation if they’re already a better service than what regulation has given us. Do you really want regulators to step in and inevitably add surcharges to your fairs to help cover their costs?

        I don’t think you have to be right wing to think that you don’t need to regulate what isn’t broken.

        • This is incredibly short sighted. Every city regulates price and who can be a driver for a reason, and being able to give someone stars is not a good replacement.

        • Regulation hasn’t given us shitty cab services, DC cab drivers have done this. When I get a cab in Seattle, also heavily regulated, the cab is clean, in good working order, and the driver isn’t blasting the radio or shouting into a phone. Many regulations make good sense, and if you throw them out, you throw them out for everyone, not just Uber. Uber should play by the rules, and if it doesn’t like them, it should seek to change them, not flout them.

        • You do realize that Uber’s plan is to (1.) put taxis out of business by temporarily driving the cost down below their margins, (2.) gain near-monopoly share of the ride services in a city, and (3.) raise prices to whatever they want, since they control the market and put taxi drivers out of business.
          Eventually, “surge pricing” will be in effect 22 hours of the day. Duh.
          This is why we have regulations.

          • Yes. People are pretty naive in their blind love of Uber.

          • Wait, no. That’s not the stated purpose of regulations – regulations are supposed to be for safety and health.

            And if Uber truly does drive up the cost of rides, then some lower cost competitor (e.g., Lyft) will simply fill the void.

          • Anonymous 1:02, where is that stated? I think a claim like that needs a citation otherwise it’s just your personal view or something.

          • Anon @ 1:02, where will these competitors come from? You need a lot of resources and funding to get this service up and running. Uber is like Walmart in its infancy, except it’s even more aggressive and it has a competitive advantage that Walmart didn’t have (an unregulated entity pushing out regulated entities).

          • This is nonsense. Their going to lose money in every city in the country, put all taxis out of business and then recoup their losses by charging monopoly prices in every city? That would require them to sustain BILLIONS in losses for YEARS. And to recoup the losses, they’d have to keep Lyft, Hailo, etc. out of the market once they achieve their “near monopoly” share. How are they going to do that? With more below cost pricing?

          • @Anon 1:39:
            You have no idea how Uber works.
            #1. They have billions in venture funding.
            #2. Uber doesn’t eat losses. The drivers of Uber cars eat the losses. Uber sets the prices and the drivers must accept them or they are kicked out of the Uber network. Everything is pure gravy for Uber, they have zero in fixed costs. Drivers are on the hook for gas, car cost, maintenance, and insurance. Uber has zero liability if something happens because Uber drivers are 1099 independent contractors. So every ride, regardless of cost, is money making for Uber.
            #3. Most Uber drivers that I’ve spoken with (especially Uber X) are underemployed. They typically have another part time job and they want to put their existing car to use to make more money. That said, many days those drivers barely break even, especially if Uber is doing a fare sale. Like I said, Uber itself never loses money; only their drivers lose money.

        • There are many other things regulation covers besides price. I’m not defending DCTC or DC cabs in general as I don’t think either do a particularly good job. However, Uber doesn’t offer transportation for handicapped people, for instance, while there are indeed handicap-accessible cabs that can be dispatched to you. If left to the free market, there would likely be no such offering since the vast majority of customers can use any vehicle.

          • If you’re discussing options at least the whole premise of not paying cash or credit in the car makes it safer (remember the recent post of the woman who was locked in the cabbie’s car and forced to hand over all her money) not to mention you have the drivers info if anything were to happen. Cabs are so annoying with the credit card situation when many people choose not to carry cash on their person. You can also book an uber xl for a larger group and there an option to book an uber with a car seat for us moms out there. Not sure dc cabs offer these options, do they?

    • I agree completely.

    • Apparently we have some DC taxi drivers on here ….

    • If taxi’s are required to be licensed, why aren’t uber drivers?

  • surprised they’d leave from East Potomac Park. Every time I took a cab to the golf course at East Potomac the driver didn’t know how to get there.

  • What the heck are they protesting? Their right to not pick up black people?!

    Seriously, competition is necessary for capitalism to work. There are way too many monopolies in the US. They get no sympathy from me, especially since they don’t see me as a valid customer when I’m stranded downtown even when wearing a suit and tie. You want more money and job security? Become a metro bus operator.

    • Yes, they are protesting for their right to not pick up black people *and* not be judged for doing so. I think they’re also protesting having to use credit card machines that track income and force them to pay taxes, but that might have been the last protest… hard to tell…

    • “Seriously, competition is necessary for capitalism to work.”
      But only if it’s fair competition. Uber is not regulated in the same way as taxis even though it’s basically the same exact service, so it’s not exactly a level playing field. Mind you I have no sympathy for taxis because they seem unable to provide quality service with or without the existence of Uber. But in economic terms, the current arrangement does not resemble the “competitive market” that we learned about in Econ 101, nor do taxis have a monopoly position.

      • Unfortunately, this is fairly common in highly regulated fields. New technologies come out to compete with the old ones and the new ones have a competitive advantage until the new ones are regulated accordingly. An example is VoIP v. Telephone.

      • This is a good point but it presupposes that the existing regulations are desirable. Most of them are not.

        1. Insurance/background checks. These are designed to insure consumer safety and/or compensation for injuries caused by drivers. Both taxis and Uber/Lyft/etc. do both of these things though there is a role for government in creating minimum requirements.

        2. Price setting. Cities all around the country establish minimum fares and other aspects of price for taxi service (cost per mile, cost per time spent in traffic, extra passenger fee, bag fee, airport fee, etc.) Why? Because it WAS very difficult/costly for taxi drivers and riders to negotiate fares. Smartphones and GPS technology largely solves this problem. Riders can get a fare quote from Uber and the like and decide whether or not to take the ride ahead of time. There is no reason to subject Uber etc. to the same minimum fare requirements and extra associated fees that taxis face.

        3. Restricted entry. Lots of cites – DC is one of the least bad in this regard – restrict the number of taxi licenses. The theory is that there needs to be fewer competitors to ensure the existing drivers a minimum rate of return, which will enable them to make unprofitable trips, i.e., serve less dense (or perhaps more dangerous) parts of the city. This is why there are regs that say the taxi drivers can’t refuse to take you where you want to go within the city. This is the type of argument that is often made in favor of restricted entry transportation markets (airlines are quite fond of it). It’s nonsense. We know this is nonsense because taxi drivers don’t follow the regs. They don’t achieve their intended purpose.

        To summarize: consumer protection requirements – background checks and minimum insurance requirements – can be justified. Regulations setting prices and restricting entry cannot be.

        • Anon, not sure if you were responding to me, but I was not presupposing anything. All I was saying is that if competitors have different amounts of regulation then it’s not really “competitive”. Whether the regulation is good or bad is a different question not relevant to the point I was making.

    • There is no lack of competition in DC where most cabs are independently owned and compete against each other as well as against Uber. The problem is not lack of competition.

  • And every single one of them is leaning on his horn. The ruckus is migraine-inducing. Thanks, DCTC, for solidifying my loyalty to Uber.

  • I wonder if this effects a noticeable reduction in congestion in the rest of the city.

  • Next time there’s one of these scheduled, I hope someone organizes a citizen’s protest against cab drivers. I can just see the big protest signs now: “Why won’t you drive me to Wards 6, 7 or 8!?”, “What do you mean “credit card machine not working!?!” and “If your shift was over, why did you stop for me!?!”
    I bet Uber would sponsor it and give the protestors free rides to the site!

  • DC taxi cabs are a joke.

  • Poor taxis, having to face all that competition… Maybe we should have a consumer protest day where we all avoid taxis and take Uber.

    Also, when taxis protest by parading honking, doesn’t that force people to take Uber/Lyft? Why choose a form of protest that pushes people towards the very thing you are protesting?

  • What are they mad about now? Maybe the scathing report in the Washington Business Journal today about how they illegally pass up 27% of those who are trying to hail a taxi?
    Or that they’ve been found to have 9% STILL without the required working credit card machines?

  • I don’t understand how this is in anyway helpful for their cause. Did they get positive feedback last time?

  • whenever i almost die by getting hit by a car, 90% of the time it’s a taxi.

  • As a black man, I view Uber as something like the Emancipation Proclamation. No longer must I brave the embarrassment of trying to hail a cab only to see it pass me by. In that sense, these cab drivers are like the confederate army, seeking to drive me back into bondage.

  • I was just outside surrounded by this. This makes me want to support uber a million times more than I already do. Uber should be paying the taxi cabs for this – its great PR.

  • I passed this on my way into work and it’s passed my office as well. #1 for an effective protest is making it clear what is being protested. They are failing miserably in this respect.

  • I’m staying in Chicago for a little while and took a few Ubers when I first arrived because I abhor the DC taxi scene. I have been surprised to realize that I really don’t like Uber in Chicago compared to the taxi drivers. I have never had a taxi driver that is not courteous and they have all had a functioning credit card machine, and they have driven me all over the south side. Uber drivers in Chicago, on the other hand, are jerky and the cars are not held to the same standards as the ones in DC. It’s interesting to see (and deal with) the difference. Goes to show the DCTC has a long way to improve.

    • I agree! DC is really the only city I’ve been in that I cannot stand the taxi drivers. Most other cities have a set of “rights” that are afforded to taxi passengers (such as in Philadelphia, they have to allow you to pay with a credit card and drivers are forbidden from using a cell phone while they have a fare). There’s no such thing in DC, at least not that’s being well communicated.

      I’ve had some good cab experiences in DC, I can’t pretend that I haven’t. But the vast majority of my experiences have been truly awful. Not to mention that I’ve only been “allowed” to pay with a credit card legitimately maybe once– all of the other times the machine was “broken” and I was implored to use cash or the driver used his personal Square device. It’s so shady. I don’t necessarily blame them for doing it (I’m sure they get more money that way), but maybe they need to be confronting the DCTC instead of further alienating their customers.

      • Apparently it’s a $1000 fine if they don’t let you pay with a credit card or have a broken credit card machine in DC now.

  • The other day I hoped in a cab near the ballpark (I was desperate – no Ubers near). There was ash in the back seat and when I tried to take a pic of the meter for my work (the guy didn’t have any receipt paper or those cards things), the driver starts screaming “What are you taking a picture of, stop!”. I love uber forever and ever.

  • I like uber because I don’t have to tip

    • tips are built into uber. You always tip.

    • You’re not too bright, are you?

      • You’re not very pleasant, are you?

      • I think they meant that with Uber there’s no awkward exchange of a few dollar bills at the end of the ride… since my cab experiences are terrible 90% of the time, having to give them a tip at the end just feels like adding insult to injury. It sometime sucks that you can’t adjust how much you give an Uber driver as a tip, but the star system makes up for it.

      • yes, I know the tip is built in. I guess I should have worded my comment better for the dim ones.
        I meant, I like uber bc of the flat fee and I don’t have to “tip” on top of the fee.

  • Ally

    I have taxi drivers a chance for 15 years. During which time, I had them refuse to take me to my neighborhood (Stadium Armory), refuse to pick my ailing mother up to take her to the airport (even though I booked weeks in advance), and not be able to tell me — repeatedly — when or even if someone would be on their way to pick us up. I feel for anyone struggling to make a living; and, for those good taxi drivers out there, I am so sorry and I feel for you. But, Uber has literally changed my life. I can now go out and night and have assurances that I have a safe way of getting home.

  • Epic PR fail. I have little sympathy for a customer service industry with such incredible contempt for its customers.

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