Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Poll - The DC Cab Strike

Is it working? Is it just pissing people off? Or do you even know that cabbies have been striking once and a while now? (Last one was Valentine's Day). A cabbie told me yesterday that the new methodology is not to tell people in advance that there is a strike, this way hotels and restaurants can't prepare themselves.

Ok, but on the other hand, people who need a cab won't know until it's too late for them, which probably won't make them great supporters of cabbies' issues. Nor will people who just need a cab that day, and who will probably just move into metro after not waving anyone down in a few minutes. In other words - if you call a cab strike but don't announce it, does anybody notice?

p.s., with the new poll, you can leave a comment, if you like.

In other topics - the final result of the last poll - Thoughts on DC Meter Rates. Results by votes:

I'm happy and looking forward to it - 27
Should dump the $1 for fuel charge - 22
Love dumping rush hour surcharge - 21
Drivers will make more money - 16
Passengers will save money - 15
Will be about the same as now - 11
I'm a driver who is going to strike in protest - 8
Rate should increase over 1/6 mile - 5
Rate should increase in less than 1/6 mile - 2

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Apparently There's Another Strike Today

Someone at work said he thought the strike was today (I had thought it was Tuesday this week). It's quite confusing. So I checked WaPo online and got this:

A group of D.C. taxi drivers staged their second strike in as many weeks today, in a continuing effort to force Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to reconsider his decision to switch from zones to meters in determining fares.

The strike, called by the Coalition of Cab Drivers, Companies and Associations of Washington, D.C., began at 6 a.m. today and is to end at 6 a.m. Friday, coalition chairman Nathan Price said. It was unclear how many drivers were participating in the work stoppage.

The coalition had launched what some said would be a series of weekly strikes on Feb. 4. Initially, some members of the coalition had called for another strike to be held this past Tuesday. But coalition leaders decided to postpone that action when they realized Tuesday was primary election day, saying they did not want D.C. residents to have a hard time getting to the polls.

The strike today was not publicized beforehand. Price said that "the media will not give us the proper coverage on the truth."

"This is not about jobs and money," he said. "It's all about the service, how it's going to be impacted when we go to meters. Nobody's listening to this story."

Price said that in other large U.S. cities, where there are far fewer taxis working for a few large companies, taxi service does not extend to neighborhoods, as it does in the District. He and other coalition leaders say that moving to meters will eliminate the independent-business aspect of D.C.'s cab service and will run many current drivers out of business.

"In other cities, taxis serve only train stations, downtown and the airport," he said. "We're trying to maintain a level of service in the neighborhoods of the District of Columbia."

At mid-morning, some cabs were picking up and depositing passengers in the downtown area, but the usual cab lines at big hotels were diminished or missing. Still, hotel managers said they were coping.

Ammar Samad, director of guest services at the Westin Grand Hotel at 24th and M streetsNW, said limousines and other hired cars were serving the hotel guests--the usual alternative when cabbies strike.

"It's not something that we haven't been through before," Samad said this morning, acknowledging that it is "an inconvenience." "Our guests are wondering why there are no taxis around, but we explain, 'We'll still take care of you.' "

Monday, February 04, 2008

Taxi Strike

From today's Post:

District taxicab drivers this morning launched the first of what organizers said would be weekly strikes to protest the looming April 6 switch from the city's long-standing zone system to time-and-distance meters.

William J. Wright, president of the Taxicab Industry Group said he could not predict how many drivers will participate in the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. work stoppage. He said he had not made calls or driven around the city during the morning rush hour to gauge the strike's effect, but would likely get some information during a meeting of cabdrivers scheduled for mid-morning.

Today's action will be followed by another next Tuesday, which will be followed the week after that on Wednesday, and so on, Wright said.

"Until we get some movement from the government, that's how long it's going to last," he said. "We've got to try to stay alive. We've got to try to get the mayor's attention."

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) recently announced the final new rules for the D.C. taxi industry, including the changeover to meters, a $3 base rate for trips and a maximum fare of $18.90 for rides within the city.

Taxi drivers have said the changes could put them out of business and discourage poorer residents from taking cabs because they will not be able to predict their fares.

Wright said drivers will mobilize at today's meeting, during which they will also discuss a plan to strike during the opening of the new ballpark for the Washington Nationals next month and during any major conventions.