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Dear PoPville – Are There Any Reliable Phone Numbers/Apps/Websites for Getting a Cab?

by Prince Of Petworth March 28, 2012 at 11:00 am 57 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user available_photons

Dear PoPville,

I don’t drive, because I can’t drive, because I do not see well enough to drive. This has been true throughout my life and I’ve always accepted this as a fact of life. However not a day goes by when I spend more energy arranging transportation than I’m guessing most people do. And still my transportation is far less predictable, less convenient and yes less equal than most. Despite the generosity of others and the generosity of government subsidies I still find my choices in life constrained by my ability to get around. My choice of where to live, work, shop and socialize are determined more by my ability to get places than by any other factor.

From time to time I consider alternatives to my existing transportation options. Eleven years ago for example, I began using metroAccess, taxpayer subsidized transportation for people with disabilities. MetroAccess has served me well. But it’s not as convenient as I’d like, and it’s costly to the taxpayer. I’m thinking of an alternative but I don’t know how to go about making it happen.

I’d opt to use taxis more often, but calling a cab in DC is a real crap shoot. The day has to be sunny; the time of day has to be right and the neighborhood convenient to the taxi driver. Most cabs in DC are independently owned. So calling any one company, even Yellow Cab, reaches a tiny percentage of drivers. For example I live in Glover Park and work in Petworth. I’ve learned that taxi service by phone is nonexistent at both locations between 9:00 and Noon and between 2:00 and 4:00 PM on weekdays, weekend nights and anytime it rains. And we’re not talking NE or SE. These are affluent or central locations and still taxi service is unsatisfactory. People in the eastern half of the city must really have it bad.

I’ve actually had to resort to calling a Maryland or Virginia taxicab company to take me from DC, to their jurisdiction, and then turn around and drop me at my final destination in the city. Needless to say this is expensive and time consuming. I’m willing and able to pay for taxis out of pocket. I choose metroaccess instead because they are far more reliable than DC taxicabs.

Ideally I’d like one or two phone numbers I can call, a website I can goto or a smartphone app I can use to order taxi service. The two companies that come closest to providing this service are Diamond and Yellow. Yet these fall far short of my expectations. These include advanced booking, a taxi within 15 minutes of the scheduled pickup time and real time estimated time or arrival, cab location and identification. Better still all cabs should be required to participate.

I believe that a solution to this problem could be reasonably expected to provide adequate taxicab service to DC residents, increase business for cab drivers and cab companies and save taxpayers on services such as metroAccess. For me improved taxicab service would mean better choice and an improved quality of life.

It’d be nice, for all residents of the city, if the DC Taxi Commission would address this,. From what I’ve recently read the Commission may exclusively serve the hospitality industry.

I’m wondering if this problem could be fixed?

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