January 17, 2012
DC Taxicab Commission
2041 Martin Luther King, Jr., Ave., S.E., Suite 204
Washington, D.C. 20020
Dear Mr. Linton:
I greatly appreciate your efforts to enforce the District’s taxi laws equally, no matter who the driver or company may be. However, I am concerned about the tone of the Taxicab Commission’s action against Uber. Instead of impounding vehicles and issuing over $1,000 in fines, it seems to me that a better approach would be to encourage innovation and work with Uber and other similar businesses in order to bring them into compliance.
After last week’s sting operation, many residents rose to Uber’s defense and voiced their support for the company. The reason for this is because many residents view the District’s taxi system as mediocre and unreliable, and see Uber as a convenient, dependable alternative.
If our laws do not allow for Uber’s model of metered fares for limousine service, then I hope that we can work together to amend District law to permit Uber and similar companies to operate legally here. Clearly, there is strong demand for services like Uber in the District, and I believe that a regulated limousine system like Uber can greatly improve transportation options for residents and visitors alike.
Instead of penalizing innovation, I believe that the District should be supporting it. Therefore, if necessary, I would gladly introduce and move legislation that would authorize the Taxicab Commission to license Uber and other transportation innovators so that they can legally operate in the District. I look forward to exploring this issue with you further at our January 30 public hearing on taxi service improvements.
Mary M. Cheh
Councilmember, Ward 3