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Honk If You're Angry About Ridesharing: D.C. Cabbies Stage Protest

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Taxicab drivers are blocking Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Wilson Building in downtown D.C.
Martin Di Caro/WAMU
Taxicab drivers are blocking Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Wilson Building in downtown D.C.

Hundreds of D.C. cab drivers descended on downtown D.C. Wednesday with a message for Uber and the D.C. Council.

They honked their horns as if the sound would blow a hole in the Wilson Building, carrying their message to D.C. lawmakers who are considering legislation that would legalize so-called ride-sharing services like Uber.

The Teamsters Royale Simms organized the protesting taxi drivers, who circled Freedom Plaza for two hours today. They say Uber and other ride-sharing services are getting an unfair competitive advantage from the D.C. Council.

"We want them to either deregulate the taxicabs like they let Uber, Sidecar and Lyft go without regulations, or regulate us so we've have a level playing field," he says.

Some onlookers just shrugged their shoulders at the protest, like Christine Taverner, who says she prefers Uber.

"This is why I'll keep using Uber, because cabs do stuff like this," Taverner says.

Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) says despite the noisy protest, she will not change her proposal to legalize Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. She says there is a good reason why app-based taxi services and regular cabs should be regulated differently.

"You have to realize that we're talking about two different kinds of services. One is the conventional taxicab service, and the others are the app-based services. They're entirely different models and they require different regimes of regulation," she says.

She says her bill also lets regular cabs operate like Uber as long as they adopt e-hailing technology, offering them the level playing field they have been demanding.

The protest came on the same day that the D.C. Taxicab Commission announced that it will require the city's 7,000 licenses taxicab drivers to adopt an app that will allow passengers to hail cabs the way that users of Uber can with that company's app.

let them through! from Martin Di Caro on Vimeo.

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