Taxi Cab Drivers, Racial Profiling and Apps

By: Nicole Danner

Although cities such as Washington, D.C. and New York City have strict penalties (such as fines or license suspension) in place for taxi cab drivers who discriminate against potential customers based on race or destination, taxi cab drivers still take part in racial profiling. According to a study in Washington, D.C., although dressed similarly, taxi cab drivers are less likely to stop for black individuals than for white individuals. Additionally, many black individuals have experienced the effects of racial profiling in daily life (e.g. standing in bad weather for long periods of time, or arriving late to appointments or to pick up their children because of the extended amount of time it takes to hail a cab).
As a result, many individuals, especially those of color, are embracing a new service provided by ride-sharing apps (such as Uber and Lyft) for transportation. These ride-sharing apps provide transportation to individual’s moments after submitting a request. An Uber spokesman stated “[w]ith 4 in 10 Uber trips starting or ending in neighborhoods underserved by taxis, Uber is ensuring that no rider is rejected because of who they are, where they live or where they want to go.”
Increased use of these services has caught the attention of traditional taxi cab drivers. Services like Uber and Lyft are not subject to the same regulations as taxi cab drivers and may charge lower rates, as a result, taxi cab drivers are losing customers. Taxi cab drivers claim they cannot compete with ride-sharing apps and drivers of such services should be subject to the same regulations as taxi cab drivers.
As word of these ride-sharing app services continue to spread, it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, are taken by those in the taxi cab industry.
Gene Demby, Apps Make Googly Eyes At Riders Tired of Being Snubbed By Cabbies, WUIS National Public Radio (Oct. 21, 2014, 11:50AM), available at

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