60°Partly Cloudy

by Jennifer Currier — November 9, 2015 at 11:15 am 0

Taxicabs in Courthouse, protesting Uber (file photo)

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.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — October 20, 2015 at 4:05 pm 0

Unveiling of a half cab-half police cruiserAs it does on many particularly festive holidays, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program will be offering free taxi rides on Halloween through its SoberRide program.

The free rides will be offered from 10 p.m. on Saturday to 4 a.m. on Sunday. In order to get a free ride, revelers have to book their cab by calling 1-800-200-TAXI.

In its press release (below), WRAP noted that nearly half of all Halloween traffic deaths in the U.S. are caused by drunk drivers.

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 on the evening of Saturday, October 31st.

Offered by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), the Halloween SoberRide® program will be in operation at 10:00 pm on Saturday, October 31st (Halloween) and operate until 4:00 am on Sunday, November 1st, as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk, holiday period.

During this six-hour period, area residents ages 21 and older celebrating with alcohol  may call the toll-free SoberRide® phone number 1-800-200-TAXI 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 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 nearly half (43%*) of all U.S. traffic deaths occurring during Halloween are caused by drunk drivers,”said Kurt Gregory Erickson, WRAP’s President.

Sponsors of this year’s Halloween SoberRide® offering include: AAA Mid-Atlantic, Anheuser-Busch, Constellation Brands, Diageo, District of Columbia Association of Beverage Alcohol Wholesalers, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Giant Food, 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.

Last Halloween’s (2014) SoberRide® program provided nearly 300 (278) free cab rides home to would-be drunk drivers in the Washington-metropolitan area.

Since 1993, WRAP’s SoberRide® program has provided 62,773 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 (www.wrap.org) is an award-winning public-private partnership working to prevent drunk driving and underage drinking in the Washington-metropolitan area. Through public education, innovative health education programs and advocacy, WRAP is credited with keeping the metro-Washington area’s alcohol-related traffic deaths consistently lower than the national average.

More information about WRAP’s SoberRide® initiative can be found at www.soberride.com.

File photo

by Heather Mongilio — October 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm 1,229 0

Red Top Select appClarendon-based Red Top Cab has been rolling out new features on its smartphone app that the company hopes will set them apart from Uber.

The recently-updated Red Top Select app features allow users to reserve a cab in advance or repeat one of their previous trips with the touch of a button. The company says those features go beyond the functionality of Uber, which has been the scourge of traditional taxi companies and driver everywhere it operates.

“With Uber, riders have to wait until they are ready to ride and hope there is a car available near them and also hope that Uber is not charging surge prices at the time they need their ride. With the Red Top Select app, riders can select the date and time in advance and their car will be waiting for them, instead of them waiting for the car,” said Red Top Cab spokesman Von Pelot.

Riders also have the option to book a ride based on a previous destination, saving some effort, Pelot said.

Like with Uber, Red Top Cab app users can link a credit card and pay for the rides from their phones. The app also allows companies to hook up a corporate account, and riders can decide between getting picked up by a taxi, a Red Select sedan or a luxury car.

Red Top Cabs (File photo)

“Of course, the app also lets riders view available cabs/sedan in their area, select the type of ride they want (Red Top Cab, Red Select sedan or Red Select black car) and track the arrival of their vehicle,” Pelot said in an email.

The focus on technology comes at a time of transition for Red Top, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The taxi company has sold its long-time Clarendon headquarters, which will eventually be torn down to make way for a new apartment or condo development.

Red Top is planning to stay in Arlington, but is still trying to figure out where exactly it will move to. The company is currently looking for a new location for its headquarters, Pelot said, but he could not go into additional specifics.

Disclosure: Red Top Cab is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

by ARLnow.com — June 12, 2015 at 11:00 am 3,889 0

A D.C. taxi flipped on its roof at Reagan National Airport Thursday evening.

It’s unclear how the accident happened nor whether anyone was injured. Fire department and airports authority spokespersons were not immediately available for comment.

Photographer Erinn Shirley said she encountered the scene while traveling on the Mount Vernon Trail around 8:30 p.m. Her photos show a tree knocked over by the crash, a tire tread under a “Welcome to Virginia” sign and one or two luggage-toting travelers standing near the wreck.

by ARLnow.com — February 19, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,825 0

Sledding in Arlington on the hills near H-B Woodlawn (Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin)

School Board Says No to Wilson School Historic Status — Any hope preservationists had of salvaging pieces of Rosslyn’s Wilson School are likely dashed. The Arlington School Board voted last night, during an abbreviated meeting, to reject the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board’s proposal to give the Wilson School, built in 1910 at 1601 Wilson Blvd, historic protections. It has been renovated in the interim, and school officials contend the renovation diminishes its historic value. [InsideNova]

Cops Looking for Crime-Fighting Cabbie — Arlington police are trying to find a cab driver who helped them make an arrest in Pentagon City Tuesday night. An officer was trying to chase down a man suspected of stealing from a store in Pentagon City mall when the cab pulled up and the driver told the officer to hop in. The cab drove up to the suspect and the officer got out and made the arrest — but the driver left the scene before police could thank him and pay the fare. [WJLA]

Happy Hour Advertising Bill Passes — Both houses of the Virginia General Assembly have passed a bill that would allow Virginia bars to list the names of drinks they’re offering when advertising happy hour specials. Current ABC laws prohibit ads that use language like “beer and wine specials” or “discounted margaritas.” Even under the new legislation, however, bars would still be prohibited from listing the actual prices of happy hour specials in their advertising. [WTOP]

Rollover Wreck on Washington Blvd — An SUV reportedly ran into two parked cars and then rolled over on Washington Blvd last night. [Twitter]

History of Glebe Road — Why is Glebe Road so named? The road, which dates back to the mid-18th century, is not, as one might think, named after a person. [Ghosts of DC]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

by Ethan Rothstein — January 22, 2015 at 10:00 am 0

Taxi drivers protest with road slowdown in CourthouseDel. Rob Krupicka (D) has written legislation that would put a video camera inside every taxi in Virginia.

Krupicka, who represents parts of south Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax in the 45th District, introduced HB 2188 this month, requiring all taxicabs and vehicles “performing a taxicab service” to mount a digital video camera somewhere on the interior, and to keep it recording the entire time the taxi is in service.

According to the legislation — which is under review in the House Committee on Transportation — the Department of Motor Vehicles would regulate how the recordings are used. That would likely include what happens to the recordings after they are taken, assuming there has been no incident.

“This bill is meant to serve as protection for both the consumer as well as the taxicab driver,” Krupicka’s website says.

Krupicka has also introduced legislation to put a referendum on November’s ballot to incrementally increase the state minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $7.50 on Jan. 1, 2016, $8.00 on Jan. 1, 2017 and $8.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018. The bill is currently in subcommittee.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — December 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm 0

An All Access Taxi accessible cab (photo courtesy All Access Taxi)Arlington will soon see an influx of wheelchair accessible taxis.

The Arlington County Board voted on Saturday to approve the licenses for 60 new taxis, all wheelchair accessible. Ten of those taxis will be operated by Blue Top Cab while the other 50 licenses will be owned by new company All Access Taxi.

The Board’s unanimous decision adds 20 more taxis to the county’s fleet than County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended, bringing the total number of licensed cabs in the county to 847, 97 of which will be accessible cabs.

“Our taxi companies, members of the disability community and riders are telling us there is a growing demand for accessible taxi service in Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “We strive to be a fully welcoming community, and these additional cabs will provide more options and convenience to many people with a disability.”

County staff’s report on the licenses said people with wheelchairs have had to wait three hours for an accessible taxi and have had trouble getting taxis from Reagan National Airport. Julie Piche, the CEO of All Access Taxi, said the County Board’s approval will drastically improve the lives of disabled Arlington residents.

“This is ground-breaking because for the first time a local government has recognized that accessible and equitable service requires a fleet and a dedicated effort,” Piche told ARLnow.com today. “This is a victory for people with disabilities across the nation because their needs have been recognized and their quest for accessible, on-demand transportation has been validated. Arlington’s leadership will set the standard for the nation.”

All Access Taxi anticipates offering rides on demand — via phone, online and a mobile app — in February, Piche said, and its full fleet is expected to be operational by April.

Photo courtesy All Access Taxi

by Ethan Rothstein — December 8, 2014 at 12:30 pm 0

An All-Access Taxi cab (photo courtesy All-Access Taxi)Arlington appears likely to get an influx of dozens of wheelchair-accessible taxis in the near future.

The Arlington County Board will vote on whether to approve 40 new taxi licenses — all for taxis accessible to those with disabilities — at its meeting this Saturday. County Manager Barbara Donnellan, after initially recommending no new taxi licenses be issued for 2014, changed her mind in October, pushing for the new licenses.

Thirty of the new licenses would go to new company All Access Taxi, which had requested 60 taxi licenses. Ten of the new licenses would go to Blue Top Cab, bringing the total number of accessible cabs in the county to 77, or 9.3 percent of the county’s 827-vehicle fleet.

At its Oct. 30 meeting, Arlington’s Transportation Commission recommended the County Board approve 80 new taxi licenses for accessible cabs. County staff noted that even the 40 licenses its recommending could have adverse impacts on crowding at taxi stands and could impair the ability of current drivers to earn a living.

“It is not desirable to add new vehicles to the taxi fleet if a drop in taxi utilization due to [companies like UberX and Lyft] is resulting in existing taxicabs being idled,” the county staff report states. “It is uncertain how much the size of the overall taxi consumer market would increase with the presence of additional accessible taxis and whether that market increase could offset the additional taxicabs.”

Staff also said it recognizes the challenges All Access Taxi will face as a new company with a “limited” fleet of vehicles, but added the approved 30 licenses will require a significant up-front investment and “if needed, other mechanisms, other than through Arlington County certificate process, could be pursued.” Staff also questioned both Blue Top and All Access Taxi’s ability to recruit professional drivers and train them to handle disabled customers.

The County Board is scheduled to discuss the licenses this Saturday morning as a regular hearing item.

Photo courtesy All Access Taxi


by Ethan Rothstein — October 29, 2014 at 10:30 am 0

An All-Access Taxi cab (photo courtesy All-Access Taxi)County Manager Barbara Donnellan has changed her mind and is now recommending the Arlington County Board approve licenses for 40 new, wheelchair accessible cabs.

Donnellan said in a memorandum in July she would recommend issuing no new taxi licenses in the county. But when the Accessibility Subcommittee of the Transit Advisory Committee took up the issue in September, it found that there was a need the county had not adequately addressed.

“[The subcommittee] that the low level of taxi complaints reported in the 2014 Certificate Determination Report was not a meaningful measure to determine the amount of accessible taxis needed,” Donnellan’s memorandum, issued earlier this month, states. “Since taxi dispatchers are informing callers that a three-hour wait is required for an accessible taxicab ride, customers are unlikely to complain to the County or request a same-day accessible taxi trip in the future.”

An All Access Taxi accessible cab (photo courtesy All Access Taxi)All Access Taxi requested 60 accessible taxi licenses in the summer after Donnellan issued her initial recommendation. Donnellan revised her recommendation to allow All Access Taxi 30 accessible taxi licenses and 10 more licenses for Blue Top Cab, bringing the total number of accessible cabs in the county to 77. All Access CEO and Founder Julie Piché said that 30 is not the optimal number to serve the disabled population in Arlington.

“Sixty wheelchair accessible taxis in Arlington County would maximize service to this underserved population by providing 2 taxis per square mile,” Piché said in a press release. “This will allow the population of disabled individuals to receive spontaneous service for the first time in history. The days of having to call more than 24 hours ahead, or waiting over 3 hours for an accessible taxi after a spontaneous call will be a thing of the past with our 60 taxi accessible fleet.”

According to the county report, the need for accessible services is increasing in Arlington. Arlington’s STAR program and MetroAccess — two public paratransit services — have seen their registrations in Arlington increase 26 percent in the last two years, the memorandum states. Both services use cabs when they don’t have other vehicles available, and there have been more reported late pickups among Arlington STAR riders from March to June this year than during any period since March 2011.

The new taxi license recommendation will go before the county’s Transportation Commission on Thursday, and hopes to see a larger number approved by the County Board when the matter goes before them in December. If approved, accessible cabs will make up 9.3 percent of the county’s taxi fleet, up from the current level of 4.7 percent.

Photos courtesy All Access Taxi

by Ethan Rothstein — September 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm 0

Ford Transit Connect (photo via Ford)(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) A new taxi company that hopes to have a fleet of wheelchair-accessible vehicles is applying for taxi licenses in Arlington, but it may have an uphill climb.

All Access Taxi has submitted applications for 60 taxi licenses with Arlington County, which allows companies to request additional taxi licenses for two months every other year, according to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel.

All Access Taxi COO Rick Vogel told ARLnow.com that his company would be the first in the region to offer 100 percent of its fleet as wheelchair accessible. The former Envirocab executive claimed that the standard wait for a wheelchair-accessible cab in the D.C. area is about three hours.

“There really isn’t anything for spontaneous service,” Vogel said. “Reagan lies within our boundaries, yet there’s no accessible service there. About once a week, someone gets stuck there with no way around. There are just no taxis.”

“I think Arlington has always been a leader in disabled issues,” Vogel continued. “All our buildings are accessible, everything is, except our cabs. At first I thought of it as a business idea, but now it’s becoming a cause. It upsets me because they can’t get around town.”

Vogel said he plans for the company to be headquartered in South Arlington and to train drivers in assisting people with disabilities. He plans on purchasing vehicles like the Ford Transit Connect (pictured), the Dodge Caravan, the Honda Odyssey and others. Each cab will be equipped with a wheelchair ramp in the back, a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.

To operate as a taxi service in Arlington, however, a company needs to own a county taxicab certificate. There are 787 certificates in the county right now, only 37 of which are wheelchair accessible. County Manager Barbara Donnellan, however, recommended in a July 1 memorandum that no new taxicab certificates be issued until 2016, specifically including accessible taxis in her recommendation.

“Based on staff’s quantitative analysis,” Donnellan wrote, “there are sufficient bases to justify maintaining the existing number of taxicabs (750 vehicles and 37 wheelchair vehicles) authorized to operate in the county.”

Donnellan and her staff will make her final recommendations by Oct. 15, the Transportation Commission will make its alternative recommendation on Nov. 15 and the County Board will decide whether to approve new certificates, if any, at its December meeting. The county issued 22 new licenses in 2012, and didn’t issue any in 2010.

According to Donnellan’s memorandum, the county’s population has increased by 3,300 since 2012, but the workforce has shrunk by 6,900 jobs. While there are roughly the same amount of cabs per person now than before the new certificates were issued, there are now 3.47 taxicabs per 1,000 employees, as opposed to 3.36 in 2012. The overall number of cabs dispatched has increased 1.1 percent over the course of the last two years.

Donnellan wrote in the memorandum, however, that a new application for a certificate might be considered if the applicant provides adequate reason or innovation. Vogel believes his company deserves to be awarded certificates to serve a chronically underserved populace.

“I think this idea’s time has come,” he said. “These people have money to spend, but they can’t get to where they want to go. I think at the end of the day, we can make people’s lives better.”

Photo via Ford

by Andrea Swalec — September 4, 2014 at 10:25 am 3,059 0

A pedestrian was rushed to the hospital during rush hour Thursday morning after she was struck by a taxi close to the Rosslyn Metro station.

The woman was walking north on N. Moore Street, crossing busy 19th Street N. about 9:15 a.m. when she was hit by a D.C. cab, witnesses and the cab driver said.

The cab’s passenger, on her way to work, said her ride was interrupted by a shout.

“I heard a scream and then he slammed on his brakes,” the passenger said, declining to provide her name.

A witness said the pedestrian was in the crosswalk when she was hit.

“She didn’t stop walking,” said a consultant, 34, who had been walking to work, noting that he didn’t see the color of the traffic signal.

The driver, 70-year-old Charlie Harrison, said the pedestrian crossed in front of his car as he had a green light.

“I never saw her. She walked right in front of the car,” the D.C. resident said, pointing to his dangling passenger-side mirror.

Harrison, who said he’s been behind the wheel professionally for 50 years, said safety is his top priority but admitted to having hit a pedestrian in D.C. “about a year ago.”

“The other person I hit was a drunk,” he said about the midday crash near 10th and U streets.

The pedestrian hit Thursday morning was transported to George Washington University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Arlington police said.

Officers at the scene declined to disclose whether Harrison would be charged for the crash, and Universal Cab refused to comment.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm 4,358 0

(Updated at 4:40 p.m.Arlington Red Top Cab launched “Red Select” last week, a car service designed to be less expensive for customers than ordering a Lincoln Town Car, but a different level of service than a taxi.

“We’ve seen, particularly with this economic environment, there’s a space between taxi and sedan,” said Red Top Director of Sales and Marketing Von Pelot, “where we can offer something of a boutique car service.”

The service has been in a pilot phase since June. It’s launching small, with just a handful of cars and drivers trained, vetted and hired specifically to drive the new black Ford Fusions. The service is by reservation only, and costs $3 per ride and an additional $2.50 per mile, with no fees for luggage or extra people.

The service currently has a dozen cars in operation and, for the benefit of the relatively small roster of drivers, currently only operates from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

“We think there is going to be big demand,” said Red Top Chief Operating Officer Jack Weiner. “People really want reliable transportation in a clean, well-maintained car that’s fully insured with a driver that’s fully vetted.”

Weiner said Red Select is another way to stay competitive in the rapidly-changing taxi and car service industry. He said last week’s decision by Gov. Terry McAuliffe that Über and Lyft can legally operate in the state, at least temporarily didn’t change his optimism for the new product.

“The recent events don’t really have a lot of bearing on it,” he said. “People’s expectations are changing and you need more than one type of product.”

Customers can call 703-777-7777 to request a Red Select car, and Red Top is developing a separate app for Red Select customers.

Disclosure: Arlington Red Top Cab is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by Ethan Rothstein — August 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm 3,347 0

UberX driver in Rosslyn(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Ridesharing services Uber and Lyft again can legally operate in Virginia, despite protests from taxi companies and cab drivers.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring announced today that they reached an agreement with the two smartphone transportation companies with stipulations that will allow them to operate in Virginia. The conditions “will help ensure the safety of passengers, bring the companies into compliance with Virginia law, provide transparency into their operations, and promote a level playing field for transportation providers,” according to a press release.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles issued a cease-and-desist order to the companies on June 5 for doing business in Virginia without an operating permit. Uber and Lyft have continued to operate in the state, including in Arlington, which has led to protests from taxi drivers and a lawsuit from taxi companies. The decision to allow the companies to operate did not come with a penalty for flouting the cease-and-desist order for two months.

“In order for Virginia to remain economically competitive, it is important that we welcome innovative companies like Uber and Lyft and provide them with the resources they need to safely and effectively operate in the Commonwealth,” McAuliffe said in the release.

McAuliffe’s office also announced it has authorized a study on how best to permanently allow Uber and Lyft to operate in Virginia without disrupting competitive balance with the traditional taxi companies and providing safety for its passengers. The study is expected to conclude by the 2015 legislative session, when McAuliffe hopes a bill will be introduced to codify the agreement.

The eight Northern Virginia taxi companies — including Arlington Blue Top Cab — that are suing to for an injunction against Uber and Lyft, issued a statement responding to McAuliffe’s decision, saying they “objected strongly” to the ruling.

“Today’s issuance of temporary authority to an out-of-state carrier is both unprecedented and illegal,” Northern Virginia Checkered Cab owner Spencer Kimball said in the statement. “Under state law, the DMV was not even permitted to consider this application, considering that Uber and Lyft had been openly boasting that they were not following the ‘cease and desist’ from the DMV — and had no intention to do so. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Virginia, the Attorney General should be enforcing the laws, not promoting a double standard for well-connected Silicon Valley companies.”

The conditions of the temporary operating authority, per the press release, must be met or either company would have its temporary license revoked. They are:

  • Extensive background checks of drivers, with immediate disqualifiers including convictions for any felony, fraud, sexual offenses, or violent crimes, or registration as a sex offender.
  • A review of driving history, with disqualification for drivers convicted of three or more moving violations in the last three years, DUI, underage drinking, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, hit and run, or eluding law-enforcement, or a revocation of a driver’s license.
  • Zero tolerance for the use of drugs or alcohol by any drivers, and a suspension pending investigation of any driver accused of violating the zero tolerance policy.
  • Only employing drivers who are properly licensed and over 21, and vehicles that carry a maximum of seven passengers and are properly registered and inspected for safety and emissions, where applicable.
  • Rigorous insurance requirements, including requiring drivers to maintain automobile liability insurance, maintaining on behalf of all drivers an additional $1,000,000 of coverage from the moment a driver accepts a trip request until the passenger leaves the vehicle, and liability insurance for drivers who are logged onto the companies’ software but not providing services.
  • Maintaining documentation for each driver of his or her background check, sex offender registry check, driving record, proof of insurance, valid driver’s license, Social Security number, vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle safety inspection. Documentation must be available to DMV on demand to investigate any complaints, and must be available for periodic audits to ensure compliance.
  • Paying any previously assessed civil penalties for non-compliance and dropping any appeals, which both companies have already done.
  • Features to help customers identify their driver and vehicle, including from the outside of the vehicle.
  • Drivers notifying the companies of any change in their license status, vehicle registration, insurance, or any arrest for a crime that would disqualify them from being a driver.
  • Rate transparency and documentation.
  • Companies advising drivers of their need to comply with applicable tax laws.
  • Only accepting rides booked through the companies’ mobile device apps, not street hails.
  • Companies maintaining a Virginia transportation broker’s license.

The full press release, after the jump:  (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — July 23, 2014 at 10:30 am 2,219 0

The County Board discusses the CIP 07/19/14County Board members weighed in on the ongoing Uber and Lyft controversy during Saturday’s monthly meeting, largely expressing support for the taxi drivers and companies.

None of the County Board members expressed an explicit desire to ban Uber, citing its popularity, but Board Chair Jay Fisette, Vice Chair Mary Hynes and Board member Walter Tejada each expressed sympathy for the county’s taxi drivers — who have organized protests of Uber and Lyft — who are losing business to the ridesharing services.

“As a Board, as individuals, there is a recognition that some of these new services have stolen some people’s hearts or gotten their business because of the technology they provide and some of the customer service they provide,” Fisette said. “We are very respectful of the drivers… that do need to make a living in this community and do a fine job of it, and then we need to figure out as a state and as a community what authority we have and how we might effect and take advantage of that authority as that unfolds.”

Uber’s UberX service and Lyft allow smartphone users to book rides with non-professional drivers. The drivers drive their own cars and Uber and Lyft don’t have licenses to operate as taxi or car service companies. The lack of regulatory oversight led the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a cease and desist order against the companies, but both Uber and Lyft have continued to operate in the state.

Most recently, eight Northern Virginia taxi companies — including Arlington Blue Top Cabs — have filed a lawsuit requesting an injunction against the two companies, requesting a judge order them to stop operations in the state before the DMV and Attorney General Mark Herring make a ruling on their requests for operating authority.

“I thought the cease and desist order from the state was very appropriate,” Tejada said. “Who knows what other issues are going on that we don’t know about because these [companies] are not regulated. I want to make sure the cab drivers, who are working very hard in this area, get the respect they have earned. These are hard-working individuals, and some of these companies charge them an arm and a leg to operate a cab. I hope that everyone will indeed play by the rules.”

Only John Vihstadt, the lone non-Democrat on the County Board, sang a different tune in responding to the issue, remarking about the popularity of services while pointing out he’s a loyal Arlington Red Top Cab customer.

“I think we need to keep in mind that the marketplace is responding to a need and responding to a demand,” Vihstadt said. “Competition is a good thing and we should not stifle innovation… At the same time, I think we need to consider the current regulatory scheme that we have for our established cab companies to allow them to be more competitive and able to better respond to the needs of the marketplace.”

Hynes pointed out that while Uber and Lyft have grabbed a sizable portion of the market share, they leave out customers who don’t have access to smartphones.

“The state has to explore how you make sure this service is available to all the people who might need it and that nobody is dealt out of the process by their age, disability or income,” she said. “It’s not just about the young people who use Uber and Lyft, but it’s really how it functions as a piece of our transportation system overall.”

by Ethan Rothstein — July 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm 3,425 0

A Blue Top taxicab in ClarendonA group of eight Northern Virginia taxi companies, including Arlington Blue Top Cabs, are suing Uber, Lyft and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

The suit, filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, requests the judge issue an injunction that would prevent the ride sharing companies from operating in Virginia without a broker’s license. The DMV has issued “cease and desist” orders against the two ride-sharing companies, but they have continued to operate in the state.

Uber and Lyft have applied for temporary operating authority while the DMV reviews their applications for broker’s licenses. According to a DMV official, neither company has been granted operating authority — temporary or otherwise — while the department awaits guidance from Attorney General Mark Herring.

The 41-page lawsuit claims Uber and Lyft operate without regulation and without requiring detailed background checks or comprehensive auto insurance, and by doing so “pose an immediate, real and substantial threat to the business of Alexandria White Top, Fairfax White Top, Arlington Blue Top, Love Limousine, VIP Cab Company, Checker Cab, Prince William Yellow Cab and King Cab.”

“The primary concern of Arlington Blue Top Cabs is the safety of our passengers and driver,” Arlington Blue Top Cabs Vice President John Massoud told ARLnow.com through a spokesperson. “Companies such as Uber and Lyft have proven their lack of concern for these people by not requiring adequate insurance and background checks. That’s why we filed this complaint in Fairfax Circuit Court.”

Taxi drivers have mounted protests against Uber and Lyft in recent months, and before that were protesting cab companies for “unfair working conditions,” and requesting Arlington enact a “driver’s bill of rights.”

During the legal disputes, Uber and Lyft have maintained service to Northern Virgina — Uber is even expanding farther out into the outskirts of Northern Virginia — as local police, including the Arlington County Police Department, have committed to upholding the DMV’s cease-and-desist order by ticketing drivers.

Uber and Lyft have combined to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital as they expand to more cities nationwide and internationally. Uber launched in the D.C. area last summer.


Subscribe to our mailing list