Cab drivers in Washington D.C. blocked and slowed down traffic today in protest of app-based rideshare companies.
The Washington Post reports that a caravan of taxis from local cab companies slowly crawled across the city, blocking traffic during morning commutes and even stranding people who were in need of a cab.
Rideshare companies such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar allow people to use their smartphones to book rides with other folks who have chosen to use their cars to make some extra money.
The D.C. Taxi Operators Association (a cab drivers union) claimed in a press release today that the rideshare companies “are operating illegally in the city and are stealing work from D.C. taxi drivers... The city failed to enact fair regulations, giving the private sedan services a big competitive edge.”
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However, cab services could do exactly what rideshare companies are doing via mobile phone apps, if they chose to.
The union is demanding that the city order rideshare companies to cease operations until new regulations are created, notes CBS Washington.
In response to the protest, Uber said in a statement, “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."
The DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC), which regulates cabs, also released a statement that said: "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.”
The DCTC added that it was trying to come up with regulations for rideshare companies.