DC Cabbies Busted During 6 Month Investigation

by Yesha Callahan


Living in the DC metro area has its fair share of ups and downs. One of the biggest downs? Hailing a taxi while being black.  On several occasions, I’ve attempted to hail taxis in DC, only to have them drive right by and pick up a white person just a few feet ahead of me. At first I thought maybe this was all in my mind. Why would a black (typically West or East African) taxi driver completely ignore me? Aren’t we all the same color? That’s sarcasm because we all know, we can be our worst enemies. Apparently it’s just what they do.  Oh, and if you’re handicap, you’ll get the same treatment.

Thanks to Russ Ptacek, an investigative reporter from WUSA9, I now know I’m not delusional. Take a look at the clip below:

After posting this video on my personal Facebook page, plenty of friends had the same experiences. One friend wrote:

“…aka internalizing the behavior of the oppressor. Once, I hopped in one of the cabs that idle in front of The Mayflower on ConnAve in Farragut North. Driver was from one of the East African nations. Dude actually SCOWLED when I got in, which I ignored. I told him where I was going (just to the West End from there, about 8 blocks or so), then said, “And I will use my credit card,” dude actually tossed his cell phone angrily into the dash, turned around sharply, looked at me and said, “We don’t take credit cards!” This was a full year or so AFTER the taxi commish passed the reg that they ALL HAVE TO TAKE CREDIT CARDS. So I was like, “Oh? REALLY? You mean none of the WHITE CUSTOMERS you pick up here in Farragut North ever use credit cards? Seriously?” He glared at me through the rearview mirror! I got out and went to the cab behind us.”

Well, I guess she was lucky to actually have a chance to get in the taxi.

If you’re in DC and frequently take taxis, here are 5 tips to help you along the way, courtesy of WUSA9.

1)  D.C. cabs may not inquire your destination prior to allowing you inside their cabs.  If they’ve stopped, you’re entitled to your ride.

2)  You have the right to be taken anywhere in the Metro Washington area, including Dulles Airport, Prince Georges, Montgomery, Fairfax, and Arlington Counties, along with the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church.

3)  You are entitled to see the driver’s “face card.”  You’ll want that to report violations.  It is required to be located on the right visor of the front seat (each cab should also have the company name and cab number printed on the door).

4)  You’re entitled to see the cab’s rate card, and a paper copy of the meter’s receipt.

5)  Your can enforce your rights by contacting the DC Taxicab Commission viae-mail:  [email protected] or by calling 202-645-6018


  • A

    I know I should not be surprised but I am. This is complete and utter bullsh!t.

  • Andrea

    I’m from the D.C. area.and people out here, especially the blacks, are CRAZYY. They are dangerous and if I was a cab driver I wouldn’t stop as well. You guys wouldn’t imagine what these cab drivers go through. Many are just protecting themselves. There is always some story on the news of a cab driver getting killed, stabbed, or harrassed. Many even run out and don’t pay. And most of these crimes are done by Black people, both grown and old. My friend’s uncle drives a cab, and he said that he had a gun pulled out on him several times. Also, some girl tried to give him $10 short of what she was expected to pay. When he confronted her, she hit him in his face. Most of these cab drivers are doing what’s best for them after years of experience. There’s two side to every story. Black people are a very hard and difficult group to service. I don’t even blame those cab drivers.

  • Sandy

    Wow, I had the same experience as this writer’s friend! I took a cab in DC with a black driver (from East Africa) and as soon as he dropped me off & I told him I wanted to pay with my credit card, he yelled ‘I don’t accept credit cards’! I was new to DC and felt pressurized so I had to go to an ATM to get money to pay etc. In the process of all this, I got disoriented and ended up leaving my bag (containing my laptop and other important stuff) in the car as he sped off! I reported the incident to the police and the DC taxi commission but to this day, I’ve never found the driver or my things. I almost had a nervous breakdown since it was in the middle of my exams, & my notebooks and laptop were all taken away in this taxi.

  • kenzy

    wow i live in LA and its sooooo not a cab place out here so ive never had the experience of trying to hail a cab but ive heard of these practices happening in NY and D.C.. Point is to see if alive and well and in flesh so to speak as someone who had only heard about is like WOWWWWW this is disgusting but just makes me sad. See everybody look how post racial we’ve become (in reference to black man not disabled woman obvi)

  • Ai

    I live in North Virginia, 10 minutes outside of DC, I’m black and have never had a problem with taxi drivers or racism anywhere in the city. Coming from the south west, DC is a breath of fresh air. I ask all taxi drivers if they take debit cards before getting in, but all Yellow Cabs accept debit. Maybe there are some with problems picking up black people, but don’t judge the entire city on the actions of a few.

  • http://gravatar.com/ceecollegegal CeeCee

    I think its sad that black folks are discriminating against other black folks. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies.

  • AJW

    Black people are just as white as white people are now.

    At least on the inside

  • Wong Chia Chi

    Ugh. *SMH* There is SO much I can say about this but I don’t even want to bother.

  • Plum

    Not sayin, just sayin. You know you don’t like to share a metro car with the black kids from DC because the screaming, cussin and carrying on seems inevitable. You know you cringe when some black young people get on the bus and start yelling. I see cab drivers pick up older black people all the time. The problem is that you are young and black and other black people who aren’t you don’t know how to act…or tip…in a cab. What’s a cabbie to do? I hate watching a young black male friend hail me a cab in DC because I know the wait will be 3 times longer than If I stick my black female late 30s hand up, but I let them. And I wait. We need to get involved in the lives of DC youth, then cabbies really will be ignorant when they fear young black passengers.

  • Andrea

    Exactly. There is two sides to this. Most people in D.C. aren’t the best to be serviced.

  • Pseudonym

    Ummmm…nice try, but no. Taxi cab drivers in DC have passed me dressed in professional attire in DuPont Circle facing north (eg. Affluent areas). Also, I’ve rider many a Metro in DC wit black kids with NO problem. The rowdy troublemakers are like1% of the young black population.

  • Pseudonym

    “There is always some story on the news of a cab driver getting killed, stabbed, or harrassed.”

    Please provide links to these stories that you claim are ALWAYS on. I lived in DC from 2006-2011 and the only news and drama I heard concerning taxi drivers was how they used to rip off customers with the BS “zone system” and were mad when the meters were put into place and cut down their opportunities to scam people.

  • AdorkABLE

    I’ve never had a problem catching a cab in any city whether with friends or alone. I’ve had lots of nice taxi drivers from different countries. The Africans and Middle Easterners are usually friendly and talkative in my experiences. I am also always polite asking them how they are and if they take card. I’ve even had great conversations with some as they drove me to my destination.

  • Andrea

    So because some share a skin color with another person, they are to condone their bad ways? This is the same mentality that has the black community in shambles. We need to start speaking up and out against people in our community who are doing wrong and continue to give us a bad name with their behavior. We are hurting ourselves by turning a blind eye to many issues that plague our community. One of the huge ones is not accepting accountability and always playing the victim…

  • http://sixfoota.tumblr.com sixfoota

    Why are there so many of y’all talking about you’ve never had a problem catching a cab? It’s like saying “Well, I’ve never experienced racism firsthand so it doesn’t exist”. CLEARLY, as you can see from the footage, this ish happens FREQUENTLY. There’s been reports about it FOREVER. This mess ain’t new. New York is notorious for it. Hell, I still get followed around in the store & it’s 2013.

    Anyway, I appreciate this station doing the investigation. I hope all of them had to pay fines up the ass. Now they’ll be forced to stop – outta duress, but I don’t care – just take them folks where they need to go.

  • Andrea

    You can Google it. Also, you have only lived in the DC area for 5 years. I have been here my whole life. Your perception of the city and mine will be quite different, unless you are coming from a place like Detroit or Chicago.

  • nattral

    Cab drivers in this area are a joke. I never have an issue flagging one down but the fact that they don’t accept credit cards in 2013 is ridiculous!! I was excited when the DC commission reported that DC cabs would start taking credit cards. But apparently it’s not being enforced and they had to the nerve to increase rates. I recently stopped giving tips to drivers who don’t accept credit cards. I’m paying you for a service and shouldn’t be inconvenienced by stopping at the ATM before reaching my destination.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    It’s like saying “Well, I’ve never experienced racism firsthand so it doesn’t exist”.

    That’s the same attitude people have here when women talk about street harassment. It’s also, “It doesn’t happen to me, so you must be the problem.”

  • Just saying

    Clap for yourself.

  • Just saying

    Completely agree! The worst is at night when the metro has stopped running.

    Once in NY, NO cab would stop for me and 2 friends. We ask the police (black) why, and he literally tells us, “it’s because you’re black”!!

    How is it so commonly known that even a black officer can say that in the most nonchalant way possible?! SMH It’s crazy

  • http://gravatar.com/sherrelld sherrell

    This is why I use UBER. I can call my cab from my phone and not have to deal with the nonsense. The same issue occurs in New York.

  • Pseudonym

    Interestingly, I am coming from Chicago. So…now what? Does that validate my opinion for you?

  • Apple Pie

    Just right now, this same station (Fox 5 News D.C.) gave breaking news regarding a cab driver who was shot early this morning (3 a.m) by two black males. He picked them up and they tried to rob him. They shot him 20 times!!!! I find it ironic that the news station just ran an investigation as to how many Blacks were discriminated against (mostly males) when it comes to catching a cab. Although many did not like what the poster “Andrea” had to say, she was blunt and honest. As a person who was born and raised (and still living) in the D.C. area, I know that the characters we have running on these streets can be something else. Every 2 weeks or so, Fox 5 news has a story about a cab driver being stabbed or attacked. I’m serious. Cab drivers are at risk while on duty. It is only to their advantage and best interest that they screen and pick who they feel is “safe” for them to carry. Many obviously have experienced bad situations regarding black patrons, so most likely this is the route they take.

    The cab driver who was shot was from Nigeria. If he discriminated and decided not to stop and pick up those two men, everyone would be saying how he is “prejudice”. Now this man has lost his life and leaves behind a wife and 5 children. I bet that the only reason he stopped to pick up those two men (at 3 a.m in the morning mind you) was because of the investigation that was done. Go figure…

  • Apple Pie

    Here is the link in case anyone wanted the detailed story:

    Read more: http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/22493213/officer-involved-shooting-closes-roads-in-northwest#ixzz2VJHposfB

    Sorry if I misquoted, but the police officers were the ones shot at 20 times when chasing the two men. The cab driver died from a single gunshot wound to the shoulder. But interestingly, check out what the other cab drivers had to say. They were quoted as saying:

    “This is very terrible because he is one of the few guys that he will not pass anybody. He stops for everyone, he stops for anyone”.

    “I tell you, all cab drivers are scared for this to happen, because say for $10 or $15 fee, not justified to die”.

    Why would cab drivers make make unjustifiable statements such as these? Shouldn’t it leave one to believe that these cab drivers know it is risky for them to stop for certain individuals? Don’t you think experience has led them to behave in this manner?

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