“Uber is the talk of the town these days,” taxi leader Haimanot Bizuayehu said of the luxury sedan service that’s in 14 cities and operates in D.C. largely without regulation. “We don’t fear competition. As a taxicab driver I just want to compete with these people. But we want the playing field to be level… [and] Uber just wants to get it both ways.”
Bizuayehu, who’s a board member of The Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers (SBA), made his comments Saturday on The Taxi Link on WUST 1120 AM, which is sponsored by the SBA and co-hosted by TheFightBack‘s Pete Tucker and ANC commissioner Tony Norman, who’s chairman of the Local Station Board of Pacifica Radio’s WPFW 89.3 FM.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick lobbied D.C. councilmembers last week in an effort to make permanent his company’s largely unregulated status. When Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh attempted to set a $15 minimum fare for Uber earlier this month, the company pushed back. Publicly, Kalanick scolded Cheh and said Uber was always against a base fare, but emails from Uber show otherwise. This prompted the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis to write of Kalanick, “if you’re going to be dismissive of backroom deals, it behooves you to stay out of backrooms.”
Also discussed on The Taxi Link was the five year, $35 million taxi smart meter contract awarded to Verifone through emergency legislation. The contract is being protested by two of the firms which unsuccessfully bid on the contract, Long Island, N.Y.-based Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT) and Alexandria, V.A.-based RideCharge, now Taxi Magic.
Additionally, Tony Norman discussed Mayor Vincent Gray’s upcoming appearance on WPFW this Thursday at 10 a.m. as part of the station’s mini-pledge drive. “[Gray is] beginning to realize why he needs independent media,” said Norman. “It’s only independent media that’s giving him a fair chance to air exactly what it is he has to say about what’s happening.” (See TheFightBack‘s coverage for more on the media’s double standard.)
* Having trouble hearing The Taxi Link on the radio? Try listening to the program live (Sat. 7:30-8:30 p.m.) on your phone by calling (832) 225-5330. Or download the free app TuneIn Radio on your smart phone.
** Saturday from 8:30-10 p.m., directly following The Taxi Link, the SBA hosts a taxi phone conference in Amharic. To listen, call (712) 432-3100, then enter this code: 140-465.