D.C. cabbies file lawsuit over new requirements

D.C. cab driver Bereket Araia says there are many problems with the new requirements, including a 25 cent tax on each fare, which he thinks is unfair. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Cabs line up for travelers outside Union Station in the pouring rain on Friday, October 10. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The dome lights on top of the cars are a point of contention in the class-action lawsuit, which says turning them on and off outside the car is unsafe and difficult for drivers with disabilities. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Driver Bereket Araia has been driving in D.C. for four years and takes issue with a number of the new cab requirements. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

WASHINGTON – A group of cab drivers is calling the new taxi requirements discriminatory and a violation of their privacy.

Five drivers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the D.C. Taxicab Commission, its chairman and the mayor.

As cabbies lined up outside Union Station Friday, not may of them know about the lawsuit filed by their fellow drivers.

Driver Bereket Araia agrees with some of the points in the lawsuit, as first reported by the Washington City Paper, such as the 25 cents the commission makes off of drivers’ fares.

“If I make a mistake and press this button for example (starting a fare), I’m paying for a fare I didn’t collect, ” Araia says.

The lawsuit also points to the GPS tracking associated with the credit card readers in the cabs as a violation of privacy for drivers. It also says the new dome lights, which require drivers turn them on and off outside the car, are discriminatory against drivers with disabilities.

Araia, who has been driving his cab in D.C. for four years says it’s a matter of safety.

“The fact that you have to turn it on and off outside — that’s not even safe.”

Drivers are often stiff after spending multiple hours in the car he says, and often aren’t in a spot where they can safely get out of the car and safely pick up passengers on the other side.

D.C. Taxi Commissioner Anthony Muhammad says he is not surprised to hear about the lawsuit given the amount of change facing drivers.

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