Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

DC and taxis: need for a comprehensive plan

I've argued for awhile that planning for taxis needs to be incorporated into a community's transportation plan.  Because taxi "management" is seen more as a regulatory function, it's most often treated separately.

In DC, taxis have been in the news for a number of reasons, including an attempt to create a medallion system (since rebuffed) and the related bribery attempts and scandal, the DC City Council's passage of a new law concerning taxis (I think the law was premature, given that a plan for the industry doesn't exist), and how the Washington Post (probably because a reporter got caught in the scrum) reported chaos for cabs at Union Station after the line monitor normally ends his shift ("At Union Station late at night, all’s fare when seeking a cab," "Union Station steps up late-night enforcement to quell cab chaos," and "A new day at Union Station cab queue"). 

And granted the newly adopted DC City Council legislation is focused on significantly improving the quality of taxi service in the city, which face it, tends not to be great.
Red Top Cab Arlington Virginia
Flickr photo by WILL1955.

For example, many people don't find DC taxicabs can be relied on to get to the airport early in the morning.  So you know to call Red Top Cab of Arlington.   It's legal for them to come into the city to pick up a fare if the final destination is in Arlington County, Virginia.

That says something very chilling about DC taxi service, for residents especially.

One of the ever present issues concerns the provision of taxi service outside of the core of the city (NYC is introducing a new system of "green cabs" to provide more cab services in areas traditionally underserved, outside of Manhattan, see "A Green Apple Taxi" from the New York Times; and Montreal has shared taxi services in outer parts of the city, which provide near-transit service on a more cost-effective basis), or in the early hours of the day.

Another issue concerns the availability of cabs with disabled-access, and even the shifting of some of the paratransit trips from the higher-cost MetroAccess service to presumably what would be a less expensive service delivered in part by taxis.

You'd think there would be an opportunity in the DC market for a taxicab service providing high quality, advanced services--ordering online/by mobile phone, paying by credit card, etc. --but such a service doesn't seem to be in the offing.

There has been the controversial Urber service ("Uber car impounded, driver ticketed in city sting" from the Post), but it's more of a high end car service and not what I have in mind.

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