D.C. taxi drivers protest new ridesharing service legislation

On Tuesday afternoon, D.C. cab drivers sounded their horns to draw attention to the D.C. Council vote that now permits app-based services like uberX and Lyft to operate legally within the District.

The two-hour protest, which took place outside the Wilson Building between the Freedom Plaza at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, was the third protest of its kind in recent months. Drivers have voiced concern that they are at a disadvantage to the ridesharing apps that do not have to comply with the same rules and regulations as taxi services.

While the D.C. Council vote (12-1) has now formally recognized app-based services uberX and Lyft within the District, it has also imposed new commercial insurance requirements of at least $1 million from when a driver accepts a call to when they drop off the passenger. It also requires criminal background checks that go back as far as seven years, private vehicle-for-hire services from accepting street hails, and asks companies to establish a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol.

Despite these new rules, it still has created less regulatory obstacles for these “ridesharing” services than for D.C. taxis. Cab drivers argue that because they are forced to pay hundreds of dollars in fees merely to operate in the city and have to steer through more complicated licensing requirements, they are inevitably losing business to their competitors.

“The illegal private sedan services currently do not follow the same rules and regulations that taxi drivers must follow, and the bill in its current form falls far too short in providing fairness,” the Taxi Operators Association said in a release. “Because of the private sedan services’ huge competitive advantage, D.C. taxi drivers are losing work and are struggling to make ends meet.”

Photo: Daniel Lobo via flickr

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