WASHINGTON (WNEW) — D.C. cab drivers blared their horns and blocked traffic for blocks near the city’s municipal office building Wednesday to protest rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber.
The companies are app-based, and customers use smartphones to “hail” drivers who use their own personal vehicles for pickup. They do not operate under the same city regulations that govern taxis.
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The D.C. Taxi Drivers “Teamsters” union issued a press release Wednesday claiming that the rideshare companies “are operating illegally in the city and are stealing work from D.C. taxi drivers.”
Avoid Pennsylania Avenue. Cabs have traffic stopped for blocks. Choke points all around Freedom Plaza. http://t.co/74fRePA1PA—
Matt DelSignore WNEW (@mattdelsignore) June 25, 2014
“Last year, the city gave the services an extension to operate until regulations were in place,” the release went on to say.
“The extension ended several months ago but the city failed to enact fair regulations, giving the private sedan services a big competitive edge.”
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As part of the protest, the president of Local 922 delivered a letter to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and city councilmembers demanding that the city follow Virginia’s example and order the companies to cease operations until a fair regulation resolution is reached.
“It’s ironic that taxi companies have congregated on Freedom Plaza, when they refuse to accept the freedom of choice, flexibility and economic opportunity that the Uber platform provides thousands of partners and riders across the city,” Uber wrote in a statement about the protest.
The DC Taxicab Commission also released a statement about the protest and the city’s legal action regarding rideshare companies. It reads:
“The DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC) is currently working on updated regulations that will ensure a fair, balanced, competitive, and safe system for passengers and drivers. The District’s City Council is also currently considering legislation regarding the role of private vehicles in public transportation. In the meantime, DCTC will continue to enforce against illegal street hails and violations of the reciprocity agreement between Virginia and Maryland. This includes private vehicles that are cited and fined as they have chosen not to register with DCTC; and without proper registration they are operating illegally.”