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DC Taxicab Documentary Teaser

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Published on Sep 2, 2013

www.dctaxicabdoc.com
While pressure to reform the DC cab industry is nothing new, the influx of taxi hailing tech startups in the past year have stirred public interest and renewed urgency for cabs to update their technology and standardize operations.

Residents, for the most part, welcome the competition and praise tech companies for encouraging a crippled industry to reform. However, many are skeptical the 4,000+ independent cab drivers will actually be able to conform to the newest regulations — including more than a few cab drivers themselves. Furthermore, in a confusing conflict of interests, the Federal Trade Commission accuses the DC Taxicab Commission of passing protectionist regulations that needlessly inhibit innovation in the interest of the cab drivers, while the cab drivers themselves have little confidence in the commission to protect their interests and livelihood.

This fall presents a critical juncture for the DC taxicab industry. Starting September 1st, the DC Taxicab Commission claims that it will impound vehicles that do not either have a modern taxicab meter installed in their vehicle or a contract to have one installed by the end of September. This means that by October 1st, every taxicab in DC will accept credit cards. By November, cabs are required to have a uniform dome light that will display its operation status in bright scrolling LED lights. Rumors exist of a uniform red and gray paint job mandate by year's end as well. The DC Taxicab Commission promises riders not to raise cab fares by more than $.50 to offset the cost of these upgrades and has assured cab drivers that the fees will not ultimately come out of their pocket. How (and if) these changes actually take place and are paid for remains to be seen.

Over the next four months I will follow DC taxicab reform as it is seen through the eyes of individuals on the DC Taxicab Commission, independent cab owners, DC cab customers, and leadership of the new tech startups. This documentary records an established, historic industry in our nation's capital as it is forced to change under the pressure of market-driven innovation. What challenges are these independent cab drivers up against and how will they fare in the midst of rapidly changing technology and confusing regulation?


— Julie Espinosa, Director/Producer
www.dctaxicabdoc.com

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