Hidden Camera DC Taxi Investigation Documents Blacks Waiting Longer And 25% Stranded In Favor of Whites

9:06 PM, May 22, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- A WUSA9 undercover investigation documents black passengers waiting longer and being stranded on DC streets by 25% of cabs who passed them by in favor of white customers.

To know about developments in our DC Taxi investigations, follow @russptacek on Twitter or Facebook. 

In response to the investigation WUSA9 is creating an online portal,WUSA9 iAlert, allowing passengers to immediately document discriminatory practices on phone videos and authorities to take action.

WUSA9 iAlert could prompt taxi fines up to $500

Passengers can use the WUSA9 iAlert link at wusa9.com, e-mail their videos directly to iAlert@wusa9.com, or bookmark wusa9.com/iAlert on their mobile phone browser.

Drivers can be fined up to $500 for refusing to take passengers to their destination.

Nearly 100 cabs tested

We tested nearly 100 taxis over three weeks on Saturday nights from 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. We tracked WUSA9 decoys acting as passengers , and volunteers including people we met on the streets to see who DC cabs would choose DC cabs would refuse.

See the video to watch cab after cab drive right past our black male and female passengers and pickup white passengers we'd located 100 feet up the street.

Out of 53 cabs tested with a white decoy near a black passenger, 13 taxis drove past the black passenger and picked up the white passenger.

Of cabs tested without a decoy, our investigation showed black passengers waiting up to three times longer than their white counterparts.

Drivers denied seeing black passengers

Cabbies routinely denied ever seeing the black passengers.

One driver actually stopped, but denied our black passenger's Southeast DC destination request saying. If you listen carefully to the video, you can hear the driver refuse service saying he has a call to pick up "white girls."

But, for our white passengers, cabs would do u-turns in the middle of the street.

Even unlicensed cabs stopped for white passengers

Private - unmarked, unlicensed taxis passed our black passengers, but stopped 100 feet later offering rides to our white passengers.

One black sedan pulled up to our white staffer a half block away after passing our black passenger.

He claimed he didn't see the black passenger and acknowledged he wasn't licensed to solicit any passengers on the street.

One driver allowed a black passenger in his cab, but before even hearing the destination, ordered the black passenger out saying he'd received an order from Uber Cab to serve another customer.

Second tests shows black passengers waiting longer

We tested without using a second passenger too. 

In one location we alternated a white man with two black men see how long they'd have to wait without offering a decoy as an option.

We tracked the first eleven pickups of all three men.

The white passenger was picked up as quick as 15 seconds from when he started to hail, waiting 5 minutes 44 seconds at the longest of his eleven taxis..

The black passengers waited about three times longer. 

Although both had at least one pickup under a minute black passenger A's longest wait at the same location was 14 minutes and 18 seconds, and black passenger B's longest wait was 14 minutes and 45 seconds.

Stranded black passenger picked up by outlaw Maryland cab

We cheered when one passenger finally got a cab after being passed dozens of times, only to realize, it was not a licensed DC cab.

We chased the cab two blocks before finding the passenger who said the Maryland licensed Diamond cabbie sped down a one-way street when he saw our camera and kept driving while the passenger was trying to exit the car.

Only District cabs are allowed to pick up passengers within the city limits.

The Ann Arundel county based cab company has not responded to our calls.

December WUSA9 investigation showed 15% cabs denying black passengers service

A December WUSA9 undercover investigation identified similar problems including one cabbie who admitted he didn't want to take a black passenger because he claimed another black man had just refused to pay him.

Click here to see our December investigation: http://www.wusa9.com/investigation/article/232588/453/DC-Cabs-Refuse-Black-Passenger-On-Hidden-Camera

Taxi discrimination isn't new to Washington and has been documented by WUSA9 since the 90's.

That combined with our recent findings, prompted WUSA9 to activate the iAlert mobile upload site, and to begin a campaign encouraging passengers to record transactions with suspect cabbies and submit the videos if violations occur.

The DC Office of Human Rights and the DC Taxi Commission have both agreed to review videos collected by WUSA9 for signs of discrimination or violations of policy.

DC's Taxi Commission chairman says refusing to take a passenger to the requested destination could result in a $500 fine.

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