News & Politics

The Anti-Uber Taxi Blockade Is Coming Back Tuesday

Pennsylvania Avenue is going to be pretty clogged for a little while.

Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

Driving through downtown DC, especially near the John A. Wilson Building, is going to be hellish tomorrow morning when an armada of taxis rolls up Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest, as drivers again protest DC Council legislation giving safe harbor to “ride-sharing” companies Uber and Lyft.

The council is scheduled to take its second and final vote on the bill, which gives services like Uber and Lyft a legal framework for operating in the District by codifying insurance and background-check requirements both companies say they already satisfy. In response, hundreds of taxi drivers organized by Teamsters Local 922 plan to circle the Wilson Building and blast their horns in hopes of deterring council members from sending the bill on to Mayor Vince Gray.

They’re unlikely to succeed, though, if the council’s first vote on the measure is any forecast. The bill, introduced by council members Mary Cheh and David Grosso, passed 11-0 in its preliminary vote October 7, which set off another taxi caravan the following day.

The ride-sharing bill, if signed into law, will require companies like Uber and Lyft to to insure their drivers with $1 million liabilty policies whenever they’re on duty, conduct criminal background checks, and distribute window decals or other identifying ornaments to their partner drivers. Cabbies say it gives the ride-sharing companies an unfair advantage over their heavily regulated service.

“The illegal private sedan services currently do not follow the same rules and regulations that taxi drivers must follow, and the bill in its current form falls far too short in providing fairness,” the Teamsters say in a press release.

The rolling protest is scheduled to begin at 10:30 AM.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.