- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2011

On most any day in the District, cabs of all colors are patrolling curbs, cruising hotel entrances and lingering at Metro stations for their next fare.

But a wide-ranging D.C. Council legislation to improve livery service is calling for all D.C. cabs to be the same color, which has some people asking why and others seeing red.

“I can think of a few other things they should be talking about in the D.C. Council,” said Andrew Daniels, a Northeast resident. “Company cabs could be all one color, but a lot of D.C. cabs are personal cars.”

The legislation would require “all taxicabs operating in the District of Columbia to be of a uniform color and have an emblem symbolizing the [D.C.] flag.”

The 13-member council still must hold public hearings and a vote on the bill, which also calls for cabs to have a GPS system and a credit-card option, before a new paint job is required.

But that hasn’t stopped residents from fixating on the color issue, said council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat.

“I’m a little surprised myself,” she said.

Though Ms. Cheh introduced the legislation, the D.C. Taxicab Commission will hold at least one hearing and make the final decision about the color.

As the Thursday morning traffic began to thin near the Willard InterContinental Washington, at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street Northwest, a handful of cabdrivers stood on the sidewalk near their cars.

An 8-year veteran who asked to remain anonymous said he didn’t mind the existing, wide range of colors.

“It makes the city beautiful,” he said.

A friend and fellow driver, however, said a uniform color could help D.C. cabbies, who often get lumped into general criticism about bad drivers.

“Sometimes we get blamed for someone who comes from outside the District, like Prince George’s County,” the man said.

A matching fleet of cabs is not unprecedented. Taxis in Manhattan are yellow, and London’s Black Cabs are considered a tourist experience in themselves.

Chicago and Los Angeles have no color requirement.

Ms. Cheh has noted her affinity for white, conjuring up images of Boston’s fleet. But the reddish hues of the District’s Capital Bikeshare bikes and Circulator buses are gaining traction.

“If I had a second color, it would probably be burgundy,” Ms. Cheh said.

Susan Ryerson, 65, of Capitol Hill suggested red, white and blue, though she wondered aloud why there needs to be an additional way to identify D.C. taxis besides the stickers.

“It could be D.C. just trying to raise the profile for home rule,” she said.

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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