D.C. cracks down on rogue cab company

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Local,DC,Transportation,Liz Essley
District officials who oversee the city's 8,000 taxis placed a rogue cab company on probation in their first-ever enforcement hearing Wednesday, a crackdown officials said would become more routine as resources for taxi inspections increase.

The D.C. Taxicab Commission placed Anacostia Cab on probation for a year and will hold another hearing on the company's performance before the firm is allowed to resume regular operations.

The cab company, one of 116 running taxis in the city, was shut down by the commission for failing to pay taxes or register as a legal business. The company's drivers were operating with expired licenses and fled when city's hack inspectors tried to check on them, officials said.

Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton said similar hearings will be held for other District cab operators who fail to meet local requirements and standards.

"What we are going to do, when we have the resources, is that we are going to closely monitor the performances of these 116 companies to ensure that they are meeting their obligations," he said.

It may be months, however, before the commission has the additional resources it says it needs.

D.C. first must approve a taxicab industry reform bill that would set new, higher standards for the city's cabs, including requiring them to accommodate credit card payments and use GPS navigation. Linton said cab companies also are going to be audited more often starting this fall.

The commission admitted in documents prepared for D.C. Council earlier this year that many companies do not bother to keep driver, vehicle or insurance records, as required by law. Some aren't paying local taxes. But the commission hasn't done anything to penalize them.

"What has become abundantly clear from file review, on-site inspections and fleet inspections is that many taxicab companies, associations, and fleets do not respect the commission's regulatory authority and they have simply not complied [with the law]," the agency wrote.

Horace Bradshaw, an attorney for Anacostia Cab, admitted the company wasn't meeting the commission's rules and regulations but said the firm is under new ownership intent on reforming the way it does business.

"The men who have now taken the mantle have listened carefully to Mr. Linton," Bradshaw said. "Mr. Linton has apparently kept his word in having an exciting, new vision for the taxicab commission and for small business. And he respects it. That's our take from this meeting."

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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