Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, June 24, 2017

D.C. allows cab drivers to apply for licenses

More taxicabs likely to hit the D.C. streets

D.C. taxi authorities are once again allowing prospective cab drivers to apply for a license for the first time in three years, according to Fox 5 News. However, some AU students said they do not see a need for more cabs in the District.

The D.C. Taxicab Commission has restarted its new license application process. Registration dates this month were Nov. 9 and Nov. 15, according to the D.C. Taxicab Commission's Web site.

For drivers to register, they must successfully complete the University of the District of Columbia's taxicab course, according to the commission's Web site.

Current cab drivers are worried about the new prospective drivers, which may be about 2,000, according to Fox 5 News. Cab drivers are concerned that more taxi availability will make it more difficult for them to earn a living, especially in times of the economic crisis.

The commission discontinued the licensing exam after a copy of the exam was released to the public in 2005 and applicants were caught cheating, Commission Chairman Leon Swain Jr. said in an e-mail to The Eagle. Since Swain became chairman in 2007, his office has worked hard to bring an end to the backlog. The Taxicab Commission is currently working on a new licensing exam, one that should reduce cheating, Swain said.

There are approximately 5,900 licensed taxicab drivers and 116 taxicab companies in D.C., he said. The commission is registering a backlog of applicants who have completed UDC's taxicab course since 2005.

While there is no shortage of taxicabs in D.C., all of the applicants who have paid for the driving course since 2005 must be given the exam, or the D.C. government will need to refund more than $1 million in course fees to the applicants, according to Swain.

Several students at AU said they do not have problems finding taxis when they need one.

Emily Hannah, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she finds that there are enough taxi drivers in D.C. and has not had any difficulty getting one. She said she believes it is unnecessary to increase the number of cabs in D.C.

"There are enough taxis [in D.C.]," she said. "More taxis will just lead to more pollution. You can call a cab whenever you need one."

Kataro Akikawa, a sophomore who is studying abroad at AU, said he believes cab availability is not a problem.

"I haven't used taxis that much here, only about twice. I've had no problems using them," he said. "I don't see any point in increasing the number."

Matt Zappala, freshman in the Kogod School of Business, said he has not had trouble getting a cab, even late at night.

"Even at 2 in the morning, I can find a taxi in about five minutes and get back to campus," he said. "If not, I can call them and they'll be there in about 15 minutes."

You can reach this writer at news@theeagleonline.com.