A temporary staging area meant for the drivers of Transportation Network Companies — like Uber and Lyft — headed to Reagan National is causing some confusion and traffic headaches in Crystal City.
Some residents have complained about the airport’s “TNC waiting area” at 26th Street and Crystal Drive. Reagan National recently designated the area as a place for drivers to park while it puts the finishing touches on a new lot, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs.
Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers were spotted idling, parking and honking their horns in the area when an ARLnow reporter visited earlier this morning.
Although the waiting area is only slated to remain in use until March, it has upset some locals. Peeved residents have taken to Twitter to complain about drivers creating traffic jams and dangerous situations.
In response, the airport has created an entrance and exit in the lot to “reduce the likelihood of bottlenecks,” increased police patrols “to ensure that TNC drivers are not causing backups,” and has started closing the the lot when it is full “to mitigate unnecessary congestion,” Gibbs said.
Additionally, the airport has asked residents to report parking complaints by calling the Airports Authority Police at 703-417-2400.
Taxi drivers already have a place at the airport to queue up, but that lot is often completely full with cabs.
— Kara Westercamp (@KaraWestercamp) January 6, 2017
— MWAA (@dcairports) January 7, 2017
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 7, 2017
Even though Arlington doesn’t have any large, centrally-located New Year’s Eve celebration — like New York City’s ball drop in Times Square — local police are getting ready for a busier than usual night on Saturday.
Scanner traffic indicates that today officers are stopping at businesses that are holding celebrations tomorrow night. Police are doing preemptive safety checks, asking management about things like how many people each business expects for its celebration and how many employees or additional security staff will be present.
There are no known, specific threats to public safety in Arlington, according to police spokesman Capt. Bruce Benson, but ACPD will have extra officers in the Clarendon area on Saturday evening. Extra officers will also be on duty throughout the county to patrol for drunk drivers.
“We really want everyone to enjoy the New Year celebration in Arlington,” says Benson. “We certainly have some great restaurants and bars and invite everyone to take advantage of them, but we also ask everyone to be responsible and get home safely. There is no excuse to drive drunk.”
Police encourage everyone to pay attention to the message of the half-police cruiser, half-taxi Chooser Cruiser, currently stationed in Clarendon: Take advantage of the many safe options available for post-party transportation or you might find yourself in the back of a police car. Some options include using a designated driver, a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, the free SoberRide taxi program (1-800-200-TAXI), and the free Metrorail and Metrobus rides after midnight Saturday.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) December 30, 2016
The regional SoberRide program is offering free taxi rides this holiday season, starting tonight (Friday).
More from a press release:
Combating that holiday period which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says is a “dangerous time to be on the road due to a high number of drunk drivers behind the wheel,”* a local nonprofit organization announced today that free cab rides will be offered to would-be drunk drivers throughout Arlington County, Virginia.
Offered by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), the annual Holiday SoberRide® program will operate between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am each evening between Friday, December 16, 2016 and Sunday, January 1, 2017 as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk, holiday period.
During the evening hours, between December 16th and January 1st, Washington-metropolitan area residents celebrating with alcohol may call the toll-free SoberRide phone number 1-800-200-TAXI and be afforded a no-cost (up to $ 30 fare), safe way home. (AT&T wireless users can dial #WRAP for the same service.)
“Last December, nearly 1,500 (1,456) Greater Washington residents did the right thing and availed themselves of this lifesaving service rather than possibly driving home impaired,” said Kurt Gregory Erickson, WRAP’s President. “For SoberRide’s hours of operation during just last New Year’s Eve, alone, such ridership (580) translated into the removal of a would-be drunk driver from our shared roadways every 49-seconds.”
SoberRide is offered in the: District of Columbia; throughout the Maryland counties of Montgomery and Prince George’s; and throughout the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, (eastern) Loudoun and Prince William. In these areas, local taxicab companies will be providing this no-cost service to local residents age 21 and older who otherwise may have attempted to drive home after drinking.
Since 1993, WRAP’s SoberRide program has provided 65,385 free cab rides home to would-be drunk drivers in the Greater Washington area.
Sponsors of this year’s Holiday SoberRide offering include: AAA Mid-Atlantic, Anheuser-Busch, Brown-Forman, Constellation Brands, Diageo, District of Columbia Association of Beverage Alcohol Wholesalers, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Giant Food, Glory Days Grill, MillerCoors, Red Top Cab of Arlington, Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, Volkswagen Group of America and the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association.
Participating taxicab companies include: Alexandria Yellow Cab; Barwood; Fairfax Yellow Cab; Loudoun Yellow Cab; Northern Virginia Checker Cab; Red Top Cab; Silver Cab of Prince George’s County; Yellow Cab of D.C.; and Yellow Cab of Prince William County.
Founded in 1982, the nonprofit [501(c)(3)] Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is a coalition of diverse interests using effective education, innovative programs and targeted advocacy to end alcohol-impaired driving and underage drinking in the Washington, DC metro area. Through public education, innovative health education programs and advocacy, WRAP is credited with keeping the metro-Washington area’s alcohol-related traffic deaths historically lower than the national average.
More information about WRAP’s SoberRide initiative can be found at www.soberride.com.
Board Holds Pike Transit Station Meeting — Updated at 10:45 a.m. — More than three-and-a-half years after it was first revealed by ARLnow.com that a prototype bus stop on Columbia Pike cost more than $1 million, the discussion of less expensive bus stop alternatives continues. The County Board last night held a work session with staff to discuss the current status of Pike transit station planning, ultimately voting to approve the County Manager’s design recommendations. [Arlington County]
APS High School Boundary Refinements — The next step in what promises to be a contentious process of adjusting Arlington’s high school boundaries will take place tomorrow. A community meeting is planned at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington Public Schools]
Cemetery Bike Ban Starts Today — Starting today, only loved ones visiting a grave or niche will be allowed to ride a bike in Arlington National Cemetery. That nixes a commuter route through the cemetery that some cyclists used to avoid busy roads elsewhere in the county. [ARLnow]
Clement Attacks Pay Raise Proposal — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey’s pay raise suggestion is opening her up to attacks from challenger Audrey Clement. “The problem is [the] County Board doesn’t do much work, unless you consider rubber-stamping done deals ‘work,'” Clement told supporters via email. Clement also is criticizing a plan to add an extra high-occupancy lane to I-395 and, in response to local noise complaints, calling on NASA to develop quieter helicopters. [InsideNova, Audrey Clement]
Stalled Cab Company May Retain Permits — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the County Board give All Access Taxi, which specializes in providing wheelchair-accessible transportation, two more years to get its service off the ground. Currently, the company has only one cab — and 49 unused permits. [Washington Post]
Local Ghost Stories — ‘Our Man in Arlington’ columnist Charlie Clark has received recent reports of ghostly encounters from “reliable sources” at several local places: at Arlington Hall, along George Mason Drive; at the Overlee swim club and a nearby home; and at an 18th century home in McLean that was torn down last month. [Falls Church News-Press]
Pamplona May Open in December — Pamplona, a new Spanish restaurant in the former SoBe space in Clarendon, is hoping to open “by the end of the year.” James Martin, a 29-year-old rising culinary star, will be the restaurant’s executive chef. He hopes Pamplona will win the kind of critical acclaim that can “put Clarendon on the map.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program will be offering its SoberRide free taxi service from 10 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday.
Those who want to take advantage of the free service must call a cab at 1-800-200-TAXI (8294) during those times.
From a press release:
As a means of making the Washington-metropolitan area’s roadways a little less frightening this Halloween, free cab rides will be offered to would-be drunk drivers throughout Arlington County, Virginia this Saturday evening, October 29th.
Offered by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), the 2016 Halloween SoberRide® program will be in operation at 10:00 pm on Saturday, October 29th and operate until 6:00 am on Sunday, October 30th as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk period.
During this eight-hour period, area residents ages 21 and older celebrating with alcohol may call the toll-free SoberRide® phone number 1-800-200-TAXI (8294) and be afforded a no-cost (up to a $30 fare), safe way home. AT&T wireless customers can dial #WRAP for the same service.
Last year, 412 persons in the Washington-metropolitan area used WRAP’s Halloween SoberRide® program rather than possibly driving home impaired. The charity also offers its SoberRide® program on St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day and the winter holidays this year starting on December 16th and operating through and including New Year’s Eve.
Local taxicab companies throughout the Washington-metropolitan area provide this no-cost service to local residents age 21 and older who otherwise may attempt to drive home after drinking.
SoberRide® is offered in the: District of Columbia; throughout the Maryland counties of Montgomery and Prince George’s; and throughout the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, (eastern) Loudoun and Prince William.
“The scary fact is that over half (52%*) of all U.S. traffic deaths during Halloween involve drunk drivers,” said Kurt Gregory Erickson, WRAP’s President.
Sponsors of this year’s Independence Day SoberRide® campaign include AAA Mid-Atlantic, Anheuser-Busch, Brown-Forman, Constellation Brands, Diageo, District of Columbia Association of Beverage Alcohol Wholesalers, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Giant Food, Glory Days Grill, MillerCoors, Red Top Cab of Arlington, Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, Volkswagen Group of America and the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association.
Participating taxicab companies include: Alexandria Yellow Cab; Barwood; Fairfax Yellow Cab; Loudoun Yellow Cab; Northern Virginia Checker Cab; Red Top Cab; Silver Cab of Prince George’s County; Yellow Cab of D.C.; and Yellow Cab of Prince William County.
Since 1993, WRAP’s SoberRide® program has provided 65,219 free cab rides home to would-be drunk drivers in the Greater Washington area.
Founded in 1982, the nonprofit [501(c)(3)] Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is a coalition of diverse interests using effective education, innovative programs and targeted advocacy to end alcohol-impaired driving and underage drinking in the Washington, DC metro area. Through public education, innovative health education programs and advocacy, WRAP is credited with historically keeping the metro-Washington area’s alcohol-related traffic deaths lower than the national average.
More information about WRAP’s SoberRide® initiative can be found at www.soberride.com.
In 2012 and again in 2014, a number of local firms were vying for new allocations of taxicab certificates from Arlington County. Both established companies and fledgling startups presented their case to county staff and to the County Board, arguing that Arlington needed to add to its taxi fleet.
That is a scene that may never repeat itself again.
A memo sent by County Manager Mark Schwartz earlier this month shows just how precarious of a drop in business Arlington cab companies are experiencing, thanks largely to competition from ride hailing firms Uber and Lyft.
Dispatched cab trips, the predominant measure of taxi activity in the county, plummeted by a third — from 2.6 million to 1.7 million annually — between 2013 and 2015, according to the memo.
The memo suggests that cab activity at Reagan National Airport and local hotels is likely up, due to more passengers and hotel check-ins, but says that there are fewer hail-based trips than dispatched trips among local taxi companies.
Schwartz says there’s currently no way to measure Uber and Lyft activity in Arlington, but concluded that the two companies are not only taking passenger business away but are also making it harder to recruit drivers and collect “stand dues.” Uber and Lyft have operated legally in Virginia since 2014.
From the memo:
Based on information gathered during these exchanges and the data collected as outlined above, staff has concluded that the amount of available taxicabs seems sufficient to support passenger business within Arlington County in general. The Arlington County Police Department has experienced fewer drivers coming to take the required exam than in previous years. For the past two years, the industry has been facing the existence of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) that operate in Arlington under Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles authority. Currently, there are two companies Lyft and Uber. These companies provide service
on demand through a mobile application to individuals.
TNCs are creating a change in market conditions and impacts on the taxicab industry. There is no data available to quantify the number of providers although it is believe[d] to be significant. One thing the industry has brought up numerous times is the shortage of available drivers. This is impacting the industry which has dropped significantly the stand dues in order to attract drivers from other companies. The recent 60 wheelchair certificates that were awarded to Blue Top and All Access in 2014, most of these have not been filled with drivers. Other companies are reporting additional vacancies at the moment. The Arlington County Code provide steps in order to address this issue that will take into consideration during the Allocation Certificate Report due this fall.
As the Washington Post reported today, the last company to receive a large allocation of taxi licenses — All Access Taxi — has only one of its promised fleet of 50 wheelchair-accessible cabs in operation. The company blames problems with driver recruitment.
Von Pelot, marketing director for Red Top Cab, Arlington’s largest cab company, said “there is more at stake for our community than the amount of business we have lost to Uber and Lyft.”
“We provide wheelchair accessible service with the most wheelchair-accessible taxicabs, both in number and as a percentage of our fleet in Northern Virginia,” Pelot told ARLnow.com. “The evidence from San Francisco is that the loss of drivers to Uber has resulted in a reduction of wheelchair accessible service.”
Pelot said that Red Top offers “regulated, predictable and affordable pricing along with a discount program for seniors and persons with disabilities” whereas “Uber offers surge pricing.” He added that Red Top drivers regularly go through fingerprint-driven police background checks and receive special screening and training, a more rigorous process than that offered by Uber.
“As a locally owned and operated company, we contribute in numerous way to the community we serve,” he said. “We are NOT, a huge multinational organization without community ties.”
Taxis, meanwhile, aren’t the only transportation option that have suffered drops in ridership in Arlington over the past couple of years. The memo reveals that annual ridership of both Metrorail and Metrobus in Arlington is down nearly 3 percent from Fiscal Year 2014 to FY 2016. MetroAccess ridership is down 6 percent.
Arlington County has 847 taxi certificates currently approved — almost 4 for every 1,000 residents. The memo concludes with Schwartz’s recommendation that no additional certificates be approved this year.
Based on all the information presented in this report, I recommend that there be no increase in the current number of taxicabs authorized by certificates. If an applicant applies for a certificate, the issuance of which would authorize an increase in the number of taxicabs for such applicant or certificate-holder, and which increase would exceed the number of taxicabs determined by the County Manager, then the application must include relevant facts indicating the reasons that the applicant contends that the market change, industry performance, certificate-holder performance, competition, innovation and other specified factors other than those determined by the County Manager.
Petition for New High School — A petition urging Arlington Public Schools to build a new high school, rather than cramming more students into existing high schools, has nearly 1,000 signatures. The petition states that APS is considering “double shifts, online classes, and mandatory off-site internships” to help with the high school capacity crunch. [Change.org]
Hero Cab Passenger Saves the Day — A passenger in a Barwood taxi jumped into action, grabbed the steering wheel and steered the cab to safety after the driver passed out behind the wheel. The incident happened Thursday morning on the GW Parkway between Chain Bridge and Key Bridge. [WJLA]
No Quidditch in Arlington After All — Those hoping to see some elite-level quidditch playing this weekend will have to hop on their brooms and head to Annandale. Major League Quidditch was unable to conjure up an available field on which to play in Arlington. [ARLnow]
Del. Lopez on Trump — In an op-ed in El Tiempo Latino, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) writes: “It is rare to find bipartisanship in a presidential election year, but Trump’s bigoted comments about a Latino judge are so horrifying that many Republicans are joining Democrats in decrying them.” [El Tiempo Latino]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
VDOT Holds HOT Lane Meeting — Last night VDOT gave the first formal public presentation of its plan to expand the I-395 HOV lanes and convert them to High Occupancy Toll lanes. The meeting was held at Wakefield High School and addressed issues from toll pricing to transit improvements to sound walls. [WTOP, Fox 5]
Bike-on-Bike Crashes Problematic for the Law — A new article asserts that Arlington County Police normally do not file reports for bike-on-bike crashes. “This is a bike accident. Life happens,” an officer reportedly told a victim after one recent incident. Incomplete or nonexistent police reports have frustrated victims and attorneys seeking legal redress — and led to the hiring of private investigators who try to gather evidence and find witnesses. [Washingtonian]
Disability Advocates Protest in Arlington — Disability rights advocates made their frustrations personal yesterday by protesting in front of the Arlington home of Vanita Gupta, head of the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division. [Disability Scoop]
Proposal: Allow Older Cabs in Arlington — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to consider a policy change that would allow older cabs on the road, among other changes. Currently, cabs entering service may be no older than two years old and then must be retired after reaching seven years old or 350,000 miles. Recognizing advances in vehicle reliability, the new policy would do away with the two year provision and set the maximum age of cabs at 10 years old. [Arlington County]
Free Donuts for Lawyers Today — It’s Be Kind to Lawyers Day and to mark the occasion Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike is offering a free “house donut” to lawyers today. Sugar Shack is also beginning a promotion that will give select customers free donuts to distribute to their favorite local teachers. “To participate, folks just need to use the hashtag #Treats4Teach to tell us on Facebook or Twitter why they should be picked to deliver donuts to their local school teachers and to which school,” said a press release.
Nice Weather at Last — After this morning’s rain, expect clearing skies and pleasant weather that should stretch into next week. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The Metrorail system will reopen at 5 a.m. Thursday, following today’s shutdown, but riders should expect possible single-tracking and delays as crews continue to fix damaged power cables along the tracks.
That’s the word from officials at a 6 p.m. press conference, in which Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld showed a video (above) of a damaged “jumper cable” found during today’s inspections. With most of the inspections complete, 26 damaged cables have been found — mostly along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines — and 18 have been repaired so far.
Fears of a traffic nightmare today largely did not materialize, as many workers either telecommuted, took buses or rode bikes to work. The morning commute was a bit slower than usual on some routes, while evening rush hour traffic — at least in Arlington — was lighter than usual.
Bus stops were certainly more crowded than usual today, but some of the biggest queues could be found at Reagan National Airport, as travelers waited for taxis.
The taxi line at Reagan. It literally 20 seconds to wish I was anywhere else but DC. pic.twitter.com/6LckRIMxQZ
— Greg Otto (@gregotto) March 16, 2016
So this whole shutting down wmata thing is working out well at DCA. No ubers, but I'm psyched to wait for a cab. pic.twitter.com/3AGOOPs4Q9
— Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson) March 16, 2016
After the jump: the press release from WMATA about the inspections and the planned reopening of the system Thursday.
The free rides (up to a $30 fare) will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday and end at 4 a.m. Friday. Those wanting to take advantage of the program have to call the SoberRide hotline at 1-800-200-TAXI (8294) to book their ride.
SoberRide is sponsored by alcohol companies, cab companies and a number of other brands and local organizations, with the goal of reducing drunk driving on local roads.
“During the evening hours immediately following the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, nearly half of all U.S. traffic fatalities involved drunk drivers,” noted Kurt Erickson of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program.
From a WRAP press release:
Preparing to combat that time of year when, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of all U.S. traffic deaths are caused by drunk drivers*, free cab rides will be offered to would-be drunk drivers throughout Arlington County, Virginia on Thursday, March 17, 2016 (St. Patrick’s Day).
Offered by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), the 2016 St. Patty’s Day SoberRide® program will be in operation beginning at 4:00 pm on Thursday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) and continue until 4:00 am on Friday, March 18 as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk holiday.
During this 12-hour period, area residents celebrating with alcohol may call the toll-free SoberRide® phone number 1-800-200-TAXI(8294) and be afforded a no-cost (up to a $ 30 fare), safe way home. AT&T wireless customers can dial #WRAP for the same service.
Local taxicab companies throughout the Washington-metropolitan area provide this no-cost service to local residents age 21 and older who otherwise may have attempted to drive home after drinking.
“During the evening hours immediately following the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, nearly half of all U.S. traffic fatalities involved drunk drivers,” said Kurt Gregory Erickson, WRAP’s President.
SoberRide® is offered in the District of Columbia; throughout the Maryland counties of Montgomery and Prince George’s; and throughout the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, (eastern) Loudoun and Prince William.
Arlington’s Red Top Cab, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, has unveiled a new look for its taxicabs.
The new Red Top paint job for its fleet of Ford Fusion cabs is black with a red stripe. It’s the first color scheme change in the company’s history.
“We aimed for a look that is crisp and contemporary,” said Red Top Marketing Director Von Pelot. In a press release, the company said other changes are helping it to compete with its bitter rival: international tech darling Uber.
The changes at Red Top Cab are more than skin deep. Red Top now offers its customers the choice of two apps, both of which have features not found in the larger “rideshare” company’s app. The Red Top Cab apps allow customers to make advance reservations in addition to booking a ride for right away. Red Top says that this feature means that when passengers are ready to go, they don’t have to wait for their ride — their ride is waiting for them.
Red Top said it recently received approval from Arlington County to make the color change.
Taxi Driver Fights Arlington Cemetery Tickets — A taxi driver is scheduled to appear in federal court later this month to appeal three misdemeanor traffic convictions. U.S. Park Police have been repeatedly ticketing Yahia Fayed for idling outside of Arlington National Cemetery, where he says there’s a steady stream of people looking for a cab. Federal officials say that’s not allowed. So far, no militiamen have threatened to protest federal government tyranny on Fayed’s behalf. [Washington Post]
Scary CO Incident at Gym Near Fairlington — Arlington County firefighters and medics were among those who responded to the XSport Fitness gym on King Street, across from Fairlington, on Saturday for a carbon monoxide incident. Witnesses said people all of a sudden started collapsing on their treadmills. Seven were hospitalized. A malfunctioning pool heater was found to be the cause. [Fox 5 DC]
Arlington Ready to Enforce Snow Removal Ordinance — Should snow ever fall this winter, Arlington County is ready to enforce its five-year-old snow removal ordinance. Last season, 25 citations were issued for snow removal violations. [InsideNova]
Lidl HQ Close to Opening — The new U.S. headquarters for German grocery giant Lidl is getting ready to open near Potomac Yard. The company also just purchased land near Richmond for one of its first stores in Virginia. [Virginia Business]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Guns Stolen from Nova Firearms in McLean — A burglary has occurred at Nova Firearms, the gun store that wanted to open a location in Cherrydale before residents pressured the store and the landlord to scuttle those plans. Two handguns were stolen from Nova Firearms’ McLean store just after midnight this past Friday. Police are seeking tips in the case. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Taxicab Fares Raised in Arlington — A taxi ride in Arlington will now cost an extra 25 cents per ride and an extra six cents per mile. The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved new taxi rates that also include a $25 cleaning fee for those who “dirty or foul a cab enough that the cab must be removed from service.” [Arlington County, WJLA]
Locals Make ’50 On Fire’ List — A number of Arlington-based companies and individuals have been named to this year’s DC Inno “50 on Fire” list. Local honorees include Vornado/Charles E. Smith honcho Mitchell Schear, Crystal City incubator Eastern Foundry, newly-IPOed Evolent Health in Ballston, Ballston-based tech firm Distil Networks and Rosslyn-based advertising agency LMO Advertising. [DC Inno]
Nauck Town Square Design Meeting — A community discussion will be held at Drew Model School to help officials arrive at a final plan and design for its Nauck Town Square project. The meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. tonight (Monday). [Arlington County]
Review of Oz in Clarendon — Oz restaurant in Clarendon, which opened in September, continues to receive so-so reviews from the critics. The latest review suggests that Oz suffers from the inherent blandness of Australian cuisine, which it attempts to recreate faithfully. Oz may benefit, however, from its co-owner’s casting on the Real Housewives of Potomac. [Washington Post]
Arlington Fire Captain Retires After 35 Years — Arlington County Fire Department Captain Robert Patterson has retired after 35 years on the job. [WJLA]
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is offering its Holiday SoberRide program starting this Friday, Dec. 11 through New Year’s Day. Every evening on these days, free cab rides will be available for fares up to $30 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Residents who have been drinking and need a safe ride home can get their free ride by calling 1-800-200-TAXI toll-free. Those who have AT&T cellular service can also dial #WRAP to get the service.
“Last December, nearly 1,200 Greater Washington residents did the right thing and availed themselves of this lifesaving service rather than possibly driving home impaired,” said WRAP President Kurt Gregory Erickson in a statement. “For SoberRide’s hours of operation during just last New Year’s Eve, such ridership (420) translated into the removal of a would-be drunk driver from our shared roadways every 68 seconds.”
This year’s participating cab companies include Red Top Cab of Arlington.
The Arlington County Board is considering amendments to the County Code’s section on taxicabs that would raise taxi fares and surcharges.
The proposed amendments include raising the initial charge on all taxi trips from $2.75 to $3 and raising the mileage and waiting charge from $0.35 to $0.36 for every one-sixth of a mile or 56 seconds.
The amendments also include a new $25 cleaning fee, “to be imposed when passengers dirty or foul a cab such that it needs to be removed from service for cleaning.”
One surcharge will be removed under the proposed changes: a special $2 fee for handling footlockers — small trunks often used by members of the military. The report from county staff notes that no other local jurisdiction charges such a fee.
At its meeting this coming Saturday, the Board could authorize advertisement of these changes, which would then be discussed and voted upon next month.
That meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12. If the Board votes to approve the amendments, they are expected to be placed in effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
About this time last year, the Board approved licenses for 60 wheelchair-accessible taxis, bringing the total number of licensed taxis in the county to 847.
Saturday’s meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. This month’s regular meeting was also extended to a third day due to the large number of agenda items, with recessed meetings scheduled for next Tuesday and Thursday.