WJLA is reporting that six out of seven taxicab passengers assaulted in recent weeks were women. D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton says, “What we’re seeing is an increase in physically manhandling their fares. Striking them. Pulling them out of their cabs. One woman was pulled out by her ankles. That driver is under arrest.”

Seven drivers altogether have been arrested, Linton says.

A couple of months ago, I attended a D.C. Council hearing on proposed changes to cabs—GPS, credit card readers, new “smart” meters. At one point, Linton testified that the majority of complaints filed about cabbies were coming from women who said they didn’t feel safe taking cabs late at night. There were hundreds of drivers in the room, and most of them immediately burst into a mixture of laughter and scoffs at Linton’s testimony.

It was disconcerting. Later, though, it became clear that many drivers think Linton is simply trying to push his own agenda that would force them out of the business, and several said they themselves are victims of bad customer behavior. To that end, the commission proposed putting panic buttons in the back for passengers, but also a button in the front for drivers. The button would summon a hack inspector who could then evaluate any disputes.

Many drivers remain strenuously opposed to any changes to the system, but they’re expected to take place by December of this year.

Photo by Matt Dunn