Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

D.C. Taxi Revolt Disrupts Capitol Hill Traffic

 

taxiprotest 217 062514 440x283 D.C. Taxi Revolt Disrupts Capitol Hill Traffic

A woman tries to hail a taxi on Independence Avenue as cabbies with the D.C. Taxi Operators Association stage a rolling protest around the Capitol against app-based car services such as Lyft and Uber on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A cacophony of taxicab horns caused a clamor around Capitol Hill around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Hundreds of cab drivers staged a protest, blasting their horns as they blocked traffic on streets surrounding the Capitol. The caravan was organized in coordination with Teamsters Local 922 to pressure the D.C. Council for regulations to help them compete with popular “ridesharing” services, such as UberX, Lyft and Sidecar.

Capitol Police attempted to help pedestrians and other drivers navigate the chaos on Independence Avenue. Horns could be heard within the halls of surrounding office buildings.

Despite the “TAXI OFF DUTY” signs perched atop the swarm, confused tourists and staffers tried to hail drivers during the rolling revolt. Drivers told CQ Roll Call that their protest would continue for another hour, and streets around the Capitol were given the all-clear by Capitol Police around 12:20 p.m.

The drivers departed from East Potomac Park at 10 a.m. and hit up downtown Freedom Plaza before heading to the Hill. They delivered a letter and petition to city officials, asking lawmakers to create a level playing field for the cabs.

“On behalf of more than 2,000 D.C. taxi drivers who are members of the Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association who follow the rules and regulations of the District, we demand that the city order the so-called private sedan services to immediately cease operations until a fair resolution is reached,” the letter from Teamsters Local 922 President Ferline Buie stated.

In Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles issued a cease and desist order to Uber and Lyft, saying they are operating in violation of state law. Uber has chosen to defy the order, and UberX drivers continue to operate in Virginia. The D.C. taxicabs say the District should follow suit and boot the competing services.

The local drivers join a chorus of protests around the nation, as states and localities try to figure out how to regulate the growing industry.

Under the current structure, D.C. taxi drivers must abide by numerous regulations, including undergoing background checks, obtaining special licenses and getting their vehicles inspected every six months. The cabbies say D.C. puts the public at risk by not holding private “ridesharing” services to the same safety standards.

“Today’s rally and  caravan show we are serious about being treated fairly and we demand action now,” Buie said.

  • ShadrachSmith

    When innovation meets established markets, the rent seekers in the established markets use their influence with regulatory bodies to define the innovations as crimes. This is a classic example of same.

    You can’t extract political donations from Uber drivers, so Uber drivers will be classified as criminals. Embrace the regulators, criminalize the unregulated…it is the Democrat way.

  • Rufus Peebody

    Since we can see many of the efforts going on around us in a free market, we can use that information to decide upon which skills to obtain, what knowledge to learn, and where best to focus our energies.

  • Jose Rodriguez

    While successes such as penicillin’s discovery may be accidental and thus have little merit, many useless failures have been of great merit.

  • Raz Matazz

    Since liberty begets courage and industry, people in free states have the opportunity to make the most of their talents and be better off than those living under the shackles of collectivism.

  • Raz Matazz

    Once the British recognized liberty’s benefits, they began to study liberty’s history, improve its principles, and broaden its influence.

  • Steve Lazzerini

    The TAXIs don’t want to give up their monopoly. The rates are fixed. They have no free market competition. I say to heck with them.

  • left wing

    the same regulators that regulate the taxis will do the same to the ride share

  • Emmanuel Ezekiel

    No matter how talented we may be, the worth of our skills in a free country depends upon our ability to make our talents known to those who can best use them.

  • Len Ear

    Despite the obstacles of increasingly centralized control, the West has become richer through the knowledge and genius unleashed by liberty.

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