Greater Greater Washington

Taxi officials unveil new look for DC cabs

The DC Taxicab Commission today officially released their latest proposal for a uniform citywide taxi paint scheme. What do you think?


Image by DC Taxicab Commission.

This new design follows 4 previous options that they proposed in December, to widespread criticism.

Here's another view of how a Toyota Prius might look in the new scheme:


Image by DC Taxicab Commission.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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Wow... just terrible.

by Alan B. on May 1, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

Not terrible. Better than the last set. Circulator-streetcar-esque.

by Will D. on May 1, 2013 12:20 pm • linkreport

Well... it's distinctive, if nothing else.

by Adam L on May 1, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

It is fine. Not great, not terrible.

by spookiness on May 1, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

Bland.

by Jasper on May 1, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

Better than last time and glad to see the "DCab" gone, but I'd be surprised if the people tasked with these designs actually have a background in design.

by Dno on May 1, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

It could be worse, but it could also be a heck of a lot better. Overall though, I am a huge fan of a consistent look to the City's cabs.

This simple look should placate the cab companies complaints about expenses too. Adding the "swoop" shouldn't be very expensive, compared to the original proposals.

by Chase on May 1, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

Always hoped they'd bring back "Starsky and Hutch" someday.

by oboe on May 1, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

Driver seat window needs man on Bluetooth phone for added realism.

by aaa on May 1, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

I kind of like it - seems like a reasonable compromise between having a uniform look without making it too difficult for the taxi operators to keep their fleet painted. Nobody is going to confuse one of those cars with just a generic, non-taxi that just happens to be red. The similarity to the Circulator (and perhaps the streetcar too?) is cool, even if most visitors aren't going to notice it.

by Mike on May 1, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

Tell me again, I forgot: What problem is being solved by requiring uniform livery on taxicabs in DC?

by Trulee Pist on May 1, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

This may not be perfect, but its waaaay better than the seizure-inducing options they introduced earlier this year. I'll take it.

by Graham on May 1, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

Dreary. Why not white with a couple of red stripes like the city's flag? White cars are uncommon in the DC area, and the red stripes would be easy to pick out.

"Circulatoresque" is not a compliment here. A taxi is not a bus.

Nobody is going to confuse one of those cars with just a generic, non-taxi that just happens to be red.

Actually, from the front, where most people would hail a cab, that looks very possible.

by Omar on May 1, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

Glad it was rendered on a Crown Vic. Previous images were on models unlikely to be cabs.

by goldfish on May 1, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

Not bad. It certainly stands out. It could be much worse.

by Fitz on May 1, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

I'm actually alright with these- a decent fit with the increasing brand of the DDOT livery. And better than the other red taxi with gray stripes.

by Bossi on May 1, 2013 1:13 pm • linkreport

This is easy and fun to comment on! Here goes: I wish they just picked yellow, but this works. Let's move past this one and focus on things that matter:
- credit card readers
- better dispatching services (phone or internet)
- dropping extra passenger fees, and
- improving customer service.

Oh, and if the driver pops the trunk for me, I shouldn't owe him a surcharge.

by Ward 1 Guy on May 1, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

This whole concept is misconceived. It's a "solution" in search of a problem. It will cost money and return little if any benefit to those not profiting (or disproportionately benefiting) from the cost of painting the cabs.
When are the credit card readers etc due?

by Mark on May 1, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

Who is having so much trouble identifying which vehicles are taxis that the city is spending so much money on this? They've been at this taxi color scheme thing for a couple of years now. They need to stop wasting money on this and let the color of the taxi's be. They are just fine as they are.

by UrbanEngineer on May 1, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

If you're going to put lipstick on a pig, it may as well be red.

by Scoot on May 1, 2013 1:38 pm • linkreport

Hasn't the Crown Vic been out of production for a while now?

Doesn't that make it fairly unlikely that the first rendering would *ever* be used?

Who is leading this effort, and how is it that they have evidently no experience with design or taxicabs? The commission should really hire a graphic designer (or, hell, just hire a design *intern*) to clean the design up.

by andrew on May 1, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

This: the answer to a question no one is asking.

As stated in a prior post, credit/debit card readers would be an answer to a question many people are asking. "Does your cab take credit cards?" or "Can I pay with my credit card?" Ugh. I don't mean to be so cynical but come on.

by Transport. on May 1, 2013 1:45 pm • linkreport

@andrew-

Ford stopped producing the Crown Vic during the 2011 vehicle model year. That means we'll see them in DC for some time, unfortunately. Take a walk down O Street NW between 15th and 16th streets. There is a white taxi -- a Lincoln Town Car -- from the late 1980s with its DC taxi sticker and meter on the dash. That particular vintage model seems to be parked along O St whenever I walk along that block to orfrom the S2/4/9 bus stop.

by Transport. on May 1, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

Credit card payment is coming. It will be implemented before this color scheme change is.

The taxicab commission is capable of and should be doing multiple things at once.

As far as I know the credit card reader rules could be implemented by the end of this month.

by MLD on May 1, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

Credit card reader rule #1: "The credit card reader is broken; you have to pay cash."

by worthing on May 1, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

Credit card reader rule #1: "The credit card reader is broken; you have to pay cash."

Yep, absent any enforcement of CC payment (haha, like that's going to happen) I'm estimating the rate of functioning credit card readers at 30%.

by Phil on May 1, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

Credit card reader rule #1: "The credit card reader is broken; you have to pay cash."
Response: "No."

Credit card readers only make sense at all if the cabbie actually has to accept credit cards. If he refuses, why would he expect to get paid with cash?

by Gray on May 1, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

Yeah, if cabbies claim the credit card reader is "broken" after your trip is done, feel free to say "no thanks" and get out of the cab. And if they protest threaten to call the taxi commission.

Is this why people hated the zone system? Because they couldn't be bothered to stand up for themselves?

by MLD on May 1, 2013 2:47 pm • linkreport

@Gray and Phil

Best way to guard against that is to require drivers to inform passengers of a broken reader when the passenger first gets in the cab. If the passenger doesn't have cash or or doesn't want to take that cab because he thinks he's being BSed, he can get out and find another one. I'd venture that most drivers will prefer taking fares even if they have to pay the 2% swipe fee when accepting credit cards. Otherwise, the driver is liable for the fare if the driver gets to the destination and then tells the cashless passenger that he accepts only cash.

by 7r3y3r on May 1, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

The taxicab commission is capable of and should be doing multiple things at once.

That is true. I think it has shown itself to be pretty adept at kowtowing to the whims of taxi operators while simultaneously screwing riders.

by Scoot on May 1, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

I still don't see the point of requiring a uniform color absent single ownership (a la NYC).

by 7r3y3r on May 1, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

@Scoot
That is true. I think it has shown itself to be pretty adept at kowtowing to the whims of taxi operators while simultaneously screwing riders.

Really? I feel recently they have been much more responsive to complaints about DC's woeful taxi service. They got rid of passenger surcharges and that has made many of my cab trips cheaper than they used to be. They have also pushed for the credit card readers which should be coming this summer.

How have they disappointed you?

by MLD on May 1, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

@7r3y3r:
Otherwise, the driver is liable for the fare if the driver gets to the destination and then tells the cashless passenger that he accepts only cash.
Right, that was my point. But in fact I'd argue against this...
Best way to guard against that is to require drivers to inform passengers of a broken reader when the passenger first gets in the cab.
...since that would just mean that lots of drivers would try to BS us all at the beginning, like they do now when we tell them we want to go somewhere they don't like. Instead, a driver is welcome to try to lie to me at the end of the ride, but it's not like I'm going to pay him cash.

by Gray on May 1, 2013 3:01 pm • linkreport

@MLD

They have also pushed for the credit card readers which should be coming this summer.

Are you referring to the credit card readers which the DCTC mandated to be installed in cars by March 31st, which by the way were initially required by law to be implemented before the end of 2012?

I feel recently that they have been more responsive as well.

Though their recent responsiveness does not negate the fact that in order to file a formal complaint to DCTC against a taxi operator, I somehow must obtain the name of the operator -- even if I just avoided a near-miss on my bicycle and he speeds away. And then there is the issue of the DCTC trying to eliminate livery and vehicle-for-hire services like Uber and Sidecar that compete with taxi operators. And then there is the Commission's continuous affirmative votes to extend the removal date of old vehicles. I could go on, but why?

by Scoot on May 1, 2013 3:18 pm • linkreport

New York does not have common ownership. Taxis there are operated by private companies that receive licences to operate, just like in DC.

by BeyondDC on May 1, 2013 3:47 pm • linkreport

@BeyondDC:
Thanks for the correction. I was under the impression that NYC owned the vehicles and leased them out to individuals/companies to operate via the medallion system.

by 7r3y3r on May 1, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

They look like police cars. Bright Yellow, which used to be the custom most places would make more sense.

by Rich on May 1, 2013 4:03 pm • linkreport

They should have selected a bright color that would be easily-visible from a distance and in the dark.

This isn't rocket science.

by ceefer66 on May 1, 2013 4:07 pm • linkreport

Warp speed ahead.

by Bob See on May 1, 2013 4:08 pm • linkreport

good enough.

by Matt on May 1, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

Ugh, lose the swoosh. It looks so "powerpoint template."

by Larchie on May 1, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

Just as with websites, no one thought about the five to eight percent of men who are color blind. For us, the hardest color to see is Red. I guess I'll just look for the gray stripe. Should have been white or yellow.

by Husker on May 1, 2013 4:56 pm • linkreport

Lose the swoosh and add some stars. The stripes and swooshes just make it looks like a gaudy soda can. DC has 3 stars on its flag. If the design can't just be plain red, which not appropriate those stars instead?

by Paula Product on May 1, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

Body shops will be lining up around the corner to get the contract for painting all those cabs. I would if any DC Councilman or relatives of DC Councilman own body shops?

by Ryan S on May 1, 2013 5:14 pm • linkreport

@Husker

You can also look for the big lit up taxi light on top of each vehicle...

by MLD on May 1, 2013 5:14 pm • linkreport

...since that would just mean that lots of drivers would try to BS us all at the beginning, like they do now when we tell them we want to go somewhere they don't like. Instead, a driver is welcome to try to lie to me at the end of the ride, but it's not like I'm going to pay him cash.

+1 - a likely conversation:

Cabbie: Where to?
Answer: [Anywhere a cabbie doesn't want to go]
Cabbie: Oh. By the way, the CC reader is broken.

A better solution is that if the reader is broken, the cab can't run.

by dcd on May 1, 2013 5:37 pm • linkreport

@Ryan S

Cabs don't have to be repainted; new cabs just have to have the new livery on them.

by MLD on May 1, 2013 5:39 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Mark on May 1, 2013 6:43 pm • linkreport

boring and bland, most importantly, the drivers still suck!

by steve on May 1, 2013 8:03 pm • linkreport

That swoosh won't look right on a Prius, which many if not most cabs are.

by Tom Coumaris on May 1, 2013 8:56 pm • linkreport

I think that the major advantage of *not* having a consistent color scheme is that I can tell companies I like from ones I don't. Paint them all the same color and I'll be less likely to take a cab at all.

by Craig on May 1, 2013 11:54 pm • linkreport

I really and truly hate these. I love cars and design and these images looks ridiculous - clownish, even. I hate the red and the trashy arcs. There is no need to litter DC’s beautiful streets with this garishness. The circulator buses look great these look like an attempt to copy circulators that totally failed. Silver with yellow roofs would look great in DC and please remember the environment since silver cars show the least dirt they would need to be washed the least. Just because this is taking a long time does not mean one has to make a bad decision.

by AndrewJ on May 2, 2013 6:40 am • linkreport

For me the color scheme is a secondary concern...
I think and approved list of appropriate makes & models and more stringent inspections is a way more important issue...

by Tim A on May 2, 2013 7:47 am • linkreport

I am confused...why is Red Top cab taking over DC?

by charlie on May 2, 2013 8:29 am • linkreport

Yeah, if cabbies claim the credit card reader is "broken" after your trip is done, feel free to say "no thanks" and get out of the cab. And if they protest threaten to call the taxi commission.
Is this why people hated the zone system? Because they couldn't be bothered to stand up for themselves?

As a few others have alluded to, I was thinking of this happening before you even get in the cab, as a pre-screen to find passengers with cash the same way a taxi driver will zip away if you tell him "Congress Heights" before getting in.

I've chosen not to pay--or pay less than the meter reads--for more than a few taxi drivers who've refused to take the routes I've asked them to take, added luggage fees when I don't have luggage, and so on. My broader point is that shouldn't really be what we're striving for, and that inspection rates for credit card readers ought to be pretty high to ensure that cabs aren't messing around. This is a system that could perhaps benefit from a "secret shopper" sort of program.

by worthing on May 2, 2013 9:33 am • linkreport

Pretty ugly. Red could cause confusion with fire emergency vehicles,and will no doubt provide conservatives with some amusement as a representation of the political leanings of the current administration.

by Chris S. on May 2, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

Really, a distinctive light on top would be more useful. As would a color all humans can see clearly, even in low light.

by dcseain on May 2, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

When the door panel gets dented and is repaired or replaced, does the swoosh have to be replaced as well? Is the swoosh a decal that will peel and fade and look horrible in 6 months, or is it painted on requiring a lots of costs and time when repairs have to be made?

This is why a single color makes sense and graphics don't.

by dcdriver on May 2, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport

I'm glad to see a red scheme that ties into the existing red/gray/sometimes yellow branding for the circulator,street car, and CaBi. That said, I'm sure this scheme will be refined going forward, but it's a good start.

by merarch on May 2, 2013 5:28 pm • linkreport

Emerson must have been a DC cab rider when he noted that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

I agree this color scheme is a solution in search of a problem. A uniform color scheme will make them distinctive, but not distinguishable. When they all look the same, how will you be able to id one unless you are quick enough to get its number?

My preference would be a day glow stripe down the hood and trunk, but if there had to be one color yellow certainly makes more sense.

by Carl Bergman on May 2, 2013 6:56 pm • linkreport

Still don't understand what this accomplishes. When I am standing on a curb looking for a taxi, all I see is the front grill, the windshield, and the dome light. I don't see the paint job. And I have never had the problem of climbing into a car and thinking, "Gee, is this really a taxi?" Is this another case of "Wah, I really want to live in New York"?

by Joe M. on May 3, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

Are there any studies that have shown people can't identify which cars in this town are cabs? I just look for cars with the light box on the roof that says TAXI. I feel like i'm surrounded by crazy people! Can no one else see these light boxes?

by snootypants on May 3, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

I don't care if they're purple with pink polka dots. Just take my !@#$ credit card.

by OX4 on May 6, 2013 9:53 am • linkreport

I just think it's amusing that the Yellow Cab Company is going to have red and gray fleet.

by Sarah on May 6, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

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