The Taxi Link: Alexandria drivers protest; D.C. drivers testify


Daniel Berhane and fellow drivers protest outside Alexandria city hall

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In Alexandria, taxicab drivers associated with Tenants and Workers United protested outside city hall this past week to call on the council to ensure drivers’ right to select their own credit card processors as the city moves to mandate credit card acceptance. “[Drivers] have been ripped off of our independent contractor role in this city and we’re trying to take that back,” said taxi leader Daniel Berhane, who told his fellow protesters their efforts had pushed back the council’s vote, now scheduled for May 14. 

Also last week, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, chaired by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, held an oversight hearing of the D.C. Taxicab Commission. Before taxi chair Ron Linton’s testimony, two representatives of The Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers, Negede Abebe and Mechal Chame, addressed the committee. “When [will we] engage in the improvement of the industry as stakeholders?” Chame asked Cheh.


Taxi leaders Negede Abebe (right) and Haimanot Bizuayehu compare notes before the D.C. Council oversight hearing

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s newest nominee to the taxi commission, Gladys Mack, also testified. Mack, who is now retired, worked for the District for 22 years, where she held three cabinet positions and served on the Washington Metropolitan Transition Authority (Metro) Board. “I think you will find me to be quite open to any concerns of the independent operators. When I was at Metro I was considered to be quite a friend of the Metro bus operators,” said Mack.

The Taxi Link airs Saturday 7-8 p.m. on WUST 1120 AM. The show is sponsored by The Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers and co-hosted by Pete Tucker of TheFightBack and Tony Norman, chairman of D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B. Listen to last week’s show here

The D.C. Taxicab Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on uniform taxi colors and sedan class regulations Wednesday, May 1 at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the Old Council Chambers at 441 4th St., NW (Judiciary Square). 

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