The Taxi Link airs Sat. 7-8 pm on WUST 1120 AM. Listen here:
At a standing-room-only town hall Wednesday, D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton told cab drivers that the commission will make changes in how it handles complaints against them. Drivers say the present system, which can result in large fines and even suspension or revocation of their licenses, lacks due process. “We’re going to tighten up the process,” Linton said.
Soon, the commission will provide cab drivers with notification within 90 days of a complaint being filed against them, as well as inform drivers of specifically what they’re accused of, Linton said. Additionally, Linton said the commission will end its practice of suspending cabbies’ licenses without first hearing from them. “We’re not going to summarily suspend any driver upon arrest,” Linton said.
“I think that’s a major step,” said The Taxi Link co-host Tony Norman. “The chairman took the initiative to stop that practice and now… [a driver will have] the opportunity to defend himself and to come in an tell his side of the story before he’s actually suspended.”
Linton also discussed the commission’s plan to issue new taxi licenses, but offered few specifics. “Anything I’d give you is just a guess,” Linton said regarding how many additional cab licenses will be issued. “It could be a thousand. It could be three thousand.” Presently, D.C. has the highest number of taxis per capita of any major U.S. city and drivers are concerned that the increased competition will make it harder to earn a living.
Another issue discussed without much specificity is how the commission will resolve the situation facing drivers who obtained their taxi license after 2006 and do not live in the District. These drivers are unable to register their car in their own name, which means they risk losing any investment they make in a new vehicle if they fall out of favor with their company’s owner. “I am one of [these drivers],” David Takele told The Taxi Link. “I cannot register my car.”
Also on The Taxi Link this week, Mateos Chekol of the AFL-CIO and the National Taxi Workers Alliance provided an update on the ongoing cab driver protests at National Harbor, the luxury resort and mini city on the Potomac River in Prince George’s County. “The coming week, we’re escalating,” said Chekol.
Central to this fight is the Gaylord hotel, which is both National Harbor’s and the east coast’s largest hotel. The Gaylord’s private transportation vendor, the French multinational corporation Veolia, is allowed to park its cars directly outside the hotel, meanwhile cabbies must pay $60 a month to park in a garage out of sight of hotel guests.
In other taxi news:
Cabbies in Chicago say they’re city employees, and a federal judge recently refused to dismiss their case. (The Nation magazine)
A prominent father-son business duo pleaded not guilty to charges they attempted to illegally set up two D.C. cab companies. (The Washington Times)
An Alexandria cab driver’s petition, which calls for drivers to be able to switch companies, has garnered more than 100 signatures.
The D.C. Taxicab Commission meets Wednesday at 10 a.m. at 441 4th St, NW to vote, yet again, on final rulemakings for the Modern Taximeter Systems.
The funeral services for Solomon Okoroh will take place this Friday and Saturday. (Details can be found here)
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, volunteer-hosted by TheFightBack’s Pete Tucker and D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B chairman Tony Norman, produced by Will Martin and engineered by Mark Taylor.
* This post was edited since its initial posting.