Loose Lips

Taxicab Color: Does it Matter?

What is the big deal about D.C. having multicolored taxis?

The taxi-medallion legislation introduced earlier this year would require that all cabs be painted black. Now Ward 6 Councilmartyr Saint Tommy Wells just asked new D.C. Taxicab Commission Commissioner Ron Linton about the possibility of requiring a uniform cab color.

Linton said he's well aware that the "incredible" variety of taxicab colors "drives people crazy."

Wait, is that true? LL supposes that it might be slightly easier to spot a cab if they were all painted yellow, but requiring all cabs to be the same color seems like a solution in search of a problem.

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.

    The lack of any sort of standard for cab quality and standard features is what drives people crazy - as well as the shoddy levels of service.

    I don't care what color the cab is, so long as one won't drive off if they don't like my destination, and when I can pay with plastic by swiping my own card at a pinpad - as well as some minimum standards for quality, climate control, cleanliness, etc.

    So long as I can tell it's a cab, I don't see what the color has to do with anything. Also, if I were to chose a uniform color for cabs that are to be taking street hails, black would probably be my last choice. The whole point about NYC's yellow cabs is that they stand out.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    so the "saint" in his name is bolded now? i'm confused, because that wasn't the case before. could michael schaffer weigh in on this one? just looking for some consistency. is there a WCP style-manual on LL names?

  • dcvoterboy

    You're wrong on this LL.

    It would be great to have all cabs in DC painted one color. Given that cabs in DC can come in different colors and have different TAXI lights, it would greatly help in spotting a cab and trying to hail one.

    However, I would say yellow would be better than black given that every security detail, car service, and unmarked federal law enforcement car is already black.

    Then again, why stick with NYC's taxicab yellow? Let's go for a DC taxicab red! Use the color from the DC flag? Then red cabs could become a DC signature, and an easy way to tell when movies and TV shows say they're in DC, you could call BS!

  • dcvoterboy

    Quick addition: a uniform color would also help given there's no vehicle standard either. DC cabs come in pretty much every make/model car out there.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/ Mr T in DC

    I've always thought it strange that DC's cabs are a hodgepodge of colors. I'd support making them all one, uniform color for ease of recognition.

  • Wrack

    Who the hell cares? You can spot a cab by the taxi light on top. What's so hard about that?

  • Sarah

    I believe it was Kwame Brown who specified the black exterior and that all taxis had to be "fully loaded."

  • http://NotionsCapital.com Mike Licht

    Any color as long as it's yellow.

  • Tom H.

    Having served for 3 years on the taxicab commission, here are the rules:

    1. Black or white for indpendent owner operators.
    2. Any other color scheme for association cabs.

    In the summer of 2008 there were a proliferation of new companies, as a result we had to approve of new weird color combos, like magenta and sky blue.

    I think the way to improve the system is to regulate more intensely -- younger vehicles, cleaner interior, continuing ed for drivers (on direction, customer service etc.) A move to medallions would only allow the conglomerates to corner the market.

    As for uniform color. Not high on my list. Though black seems to be a bit dour for such a self important city. I say if we must do it, lets go orange, magenta, pink, lime green, red and white with three red stars etc. i.e. something unique and that stands out from all the other cities.

  • http://www.glaaforum.org Rick Rosendall

    I am sorry, but anyone with eyesight who claims to have a problem spotting taxis is either a liar or a nitwit. Rather than arbitrarily require our city's hacks to get a new paint job, let's ensure that taxis are clean and don't make us gag when we get into them.

  • eli

    I thought that independent cab owners were struggling right now as a result of decreased revenue since we got meters? How on earth is forcing cabbies to repaint their cabs (out of their own pockets) going to help matters? Stupid, burdensome, expensive & worthless idea if you ask me.

  • Jim Ed

    Color? way low on my list of priorities. I think priority #1 should be making sure drivers a) take people to ALL points in the city and b) weed out the drivers whose intention seems to be to kill their fares in a fiery wreck in their jalopy deathmobiles

    Fix those, then I'm all about getting uniform colors

  • ColorMeSkeptical

    Tom H. has it right. More regulation is the only thing that will fix this crappy state of affairs. Allowing independent owners-operators and the current crop of conglomerates to basically set the standards themselves is the root cause of why the taxi experience in DC sucks so bad. Until they are forced to upgrade their businesses via regulation, the consumer should not be forced to pay higher prices, especially since gas prices have gone back down recently.

    London is the model - heavily regulated black cabs that are operator-owned with a rigid driver certification standard. The cabs are standardized, clean, and somewhat expensive in comparison to other cities. Independent minicabs companies are also allowed to operate (they are less tightly regulated in terms of the customer experience) and they meet the demand from the call-ahead/pre-order segment of the market. Minicabs are also not allowed to pick up customers on the street witout pre-booking, else they use their lower price to undercut the regulated black cabs. Because they have to compete in an environment restricted by the price of black cabs on the upper end, minicab operators have the choice of focusing more on price or service - thus the industry covers all customer segments. A friend started one of the first green minicab services in London and his stories were always good fun.

  • GOPUnite

    Tommy Wells is not a Saint. LL you have got to be kidding me by giving this guy all this press. If every cab was painted black in the city that would be a terrible choice. Cab drives in DC are so wreckless, them driving at night in all black cars are nothing but accident written all over it. Tommy Wells was so happy to be paired next to Kwame Brown last summer and now he is declared a Saint. PUHHHH-LEASE

    Bring Carol Schwartz back!!

  • Southeast Ken

    DC Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells is an liberal white idiot. Typical liberal Democrat bullshit. I am a Democrat, but I am not a liberal.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    I am a Democrat, but I am not a liberal.

    Then you are a Republican.

  • Drez

    I agree with Rick and Wrack.
    The light on the top is enough. Why focus on trivia such as color? That strikes me as a convenient and familiar distraction.

  • noodlez



  • Southeast Ken

    IMGoph, are your serious? Being a Democrat does not mean all Democrats are liberal. This is bullshit. Blacks worse enemies are white liberals who think they know what's best for us. For the record, all Republicans aren't conservative.

  • dennis dinkel

    Uniform colors for taxis? Give me a break. I usually support Tommy Wells's ideas, but this one is totally out in left field.
    But if we do have to have a uniform color, make it red: to reflect the red faces we all should have in anger at the fact that out city government is packed with criminals, crooks, cronies, and incompetent ne-er-do-wells.
    And why does the mayor not ask EVERYONE whom he is considering a job: "Prove that you're a resident of the District of Columbia"?

  • DC Resident

    Saint Tommy Tune should spend a little more time finding money to keep the MLK Library open on Sundays rather then wasting our time on stupid proposals. When will Ward 6 voters learn to dump this fool and his inept staff.

  • Joe

    LL, why don't you take a break with the "Saint" this and "councilmartyr" that. For someone who seems really interested in good governement you sure devote lots of energy to giving a hard time to the only council member who's not under indictment or investigation. It's not particularly funny or clever either at this point.

  • http://deleted leeshato

    Let make the color purple. Hey if we must be uniform let be uniform and crazy.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Southeast Ken: Thanks for bringing race into this. I certainly hadn't thought of it that way. I guess that's on you.

    Joe: +1, but Shani said that the snark is official policy at City Paper now. gonna have to take it up with Michael Schaffer if you want to see otherwise.

  • Sanctuary

    It is very amazing when people spend their time over nothing. Specially, on the shoulder of tax payer's expense. When they say the cab's color drives people crazy, does they mean DC residents are sufferring from color phobia or what? It really does not make sense. Only animals Go crazy when they overwhelmed by different colors. So you should stop disrespecting DC's residences.

  • Southeast Ken

    You are welcome, IMGoph. Race does matter in the United States. Whether you want to admit it or not, it truly does matter. I stand by my word, all Democrats aren't liberal or support any an everything goes. I am conservative on some issues and illegal immigration is one of them.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Southeast Ken: I totally agree with you, race does matter. But if I said, "Whoppers are better than Big Macs," and then you said, "White liberals are the devil," most people would say, "Wow, that's an interesting interjection of race into the conversation."

    That was my point here. I don't know why you stuck it in here. Sure, it's an important topic, but we were talking raw politics. If you want to say that you can't even discuss a liberal/conservative divide without adding race to it, fine. But that's your opinion.

  • blackie

    Let's pretend the colors are right. Color changes cost money,carbon footprints,paperwork,and don't you have some real work to do?

  • http://deleted leeshato

    Once again I say make all of the cabs pruple. Bring back Carol Schwartz.

  • Billy Ray Edwards

    As a owner/operator for 47 years I don't care what color but who own the number the number one issue today in the dc taxi system
    .>>Billy Ray

  • melkamu

    I say if we must do it, lets go with RED it's bright easy to identify and it's muching our city flug also metro and circulator buses.the other thing you can put strip on side for associate cab to keep there own color,for example yellow strip for yellow cab campany because there is a lot of campanys in dc we have to keep there own color to easly identify campanies, indivisual cab may use with out strip. that's why I think red is good.

  • Margaret

    I lived in DC for 17 years before I moved to NYC. I like the fact that DC cabs are a different color from NYC cabs (On my first day at work here, I looked down from my 27th floor office at 57th & Madison, and it seemed that all cars here were yellow... I slowly realized that I was seeing taxis).
    I don't think it would be a good idea for DC, or any other city, to copy the NYC taxi color, if for no other reason than that movies filmed in DC would not seem so DC if they had Yellow Cabs.
    It's been a while, but, as I recall, there were two colors of cabs there when I left - a black and white "diamond" cab, and, I think, a cab that had red on it, as well.
    Why should DC copy New York City? Where is the DC personality in that?