D.C. drivers experienced some brutal traffic this morning, thanks to a city-wide taxi protest. Taxi drivers in the nation's capital formed a caravan, crawling from East Potomac Park to Freedom Plaza, causing massive backups and traffic headaches for everyone else. The taxi drivers are members of the D.C. Taxi Operators Association, and their protest was aimed at e-hailing apps, like Lyft, Uber, Sidecar, and Hailo.
Last month, similar protests were held all throughout Europe, with the largest protest causing full-scale gridlock in London. Regular taxi drivers are upset that these e-hailing services are, in their eyes, going around the law. Because e-hailing services are not technically car services (they are technology companies), they do not need to have medallions (which are quite expensive) or follow the strict regulations of taxi and limousine commissions. Taxi drivers argue this gives e-hailing drivers an unfair advantage, and puts the safety of passengers at risk. Of course, it also cuts into the profits of taxi drivers, who lose customers to those who prefer to hail via app.
Today's protest in Washington ended at Freedom Plaza, where organizers delivered a letter and petition to city officials, asking for a cease-and-desist to be sent to the e-hailing app companies. D.C.'s next door neighbor, Virginia, has already banned e-hailing apps, as legislators investigate new regulation for the services. Virginia officials sent both Uber and Lyft cease-and-desist letters.