Taxi drivers block D.C. streets, demand regulations for ride-share businesses

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of cabs flooded Pennsylvania Avenue late Wednesday morning, blocking streets and blaring their horns, to demand that the D.C. Council regulate competitors like Uber and Lyft.

Cabbies want the council to pass legislation that would even the playing field. Operating without complying with taxi regulations gives ride-sharing enterprises an unfair competitive advantage and taxi drivers say they are losing money.

Teamsters members had planned to meet in East Potomac Park around 10:30 a.m. and then to caravan through the city.

Instead, police diverted cabs outside of downtown. But the taxis rerouted and regrouped, descending upon the Federal Triangle from all directions snarling traffic as they tried to reach the Wilson Building, the seat of D.C. government.

The protest forced police to block streets that feed into Pennsylvania Avenue. Streets began to reopen about 1 p.m.

Today the head of the D.C. Taxicab Commission is scheduled to make a series of proposals that are designed to help compete against the private driving companies.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Mary Cheh has put forward a bill that would regulate app-based transportation companies separately from standard taxis. The bill was advanced on first reading Tuesday night.

But the Teamsters, which represents taxi drivers, calls the bill unfair because it favors rideshare services.

Cab drivers have the option to become an app-based-service driver if they don’t like the taxi regulations, Cheh says.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty was there.

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