The public will help pick the new color of all of D.C.'s taxis under a new city plan that requires all of the individually owned cabs to look the same.
DC Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton said Wednesday that the city will park four vehicles with different color schemes in front of Union Station starting Nov. 1. Residents will be able to pick their favorite or comment on the color options until Jan. 21, Inauguration Day.
The four color schemes have not yet been selected, but Taxicab Commission spokesman Neville Waters said Mayor Vince Gray's favorite color scheme --red and gray, similar to the city's Circulator buses -- will likely be one of the choices. He said other colors under consideration include green, black and a red-white-and-blue combination.
Waters said yellow will likely not be a choice, since the color is already associated with New York City taxis and because D.C.'s Yellow Cab Co. could gain an advantage from the citywide repainting.
"I would suspect that the other companies would feel disenfranchised," Waters said. "I would be very surprised if we offered a yellow cab as an option."
Waters said residents will be able to comment in person at Union Station through a comment box or similar device, though the exact method has yet to be determined. Or they can comment online at the Taxicab Commission's website.
The requirement for a citywide uniform cab color was approved by the D.C. Council earlier this year as part of its taxi modernization plan. The plan also requires cabs to install credit card machines and GPS navigation systems.
"It's maybe a softer measure, but it's aesthetically more pleasing. Part of our overall objective with modernizing our industry is creating a more customer-friendly, aesthetically pleasing vehicle," Waters said.
The uniform paint job could also help cut down on illegal cab operations in the District and allow the city to achieve a "branding" similar to New York City's, he said.
The change won't be easy for cab drivers. Waters estimated that painting a cab in the new color scheme will cost between $1,000 and $5,000, and some cab drives are already unhappy about having to change at all, let alone having to pay for the paint job.
"People tell their kids to pick the orange and black cab. That's our brand name. That's our marketing. And we're going to lose it because they want to go to one color. Does one color improve service?" said Roy Spooner of the Yellow Cab Co.