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Posted at 1:15 PM ET, 11/14/2008

Hailing Changes for Cabs in Adams Morgan

By Fritz Hahn

On Friday and Saturday night, Adams Morgan grinds to a halt. Part of the problem lies with the tipsy barhoppers jaywalking for jumbo slices and the people trying to back into parking spaces in front of the Diner. But the real culprits are the taxi cabs that block traffic as they cruise for fares, pull over to ask passengers where they're heading and stop in the middle of their street to open their doors.

After tonight, though, it should be easier to navigate 18th Street after dark.

Between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, you will no longer be able to hail a taxi on 18th Street between Columbia Road and Wyoming Avenue. Instead, you'll have to go to one of two officially approved taxi stands, either at 18th and Kalorama (on the west side of the street, in front of Awash restaurant), or in the alley behind the SunTrust Bank near 18th and Columbia. "The idea is to reduce congestion," says Kristen Barden, executive director of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District, adding that door staff at all the bars and clubs are being briefed to tell customers where to go.

This sounds like it has potential for trouble -- i.e. drunks arguing about who gets the next cab -- but Barden says the BID has hired staff to keep the lines and crowds orderly. Plus, the usual complement of police will be on the streets. Hack inspectors from the D.C. Taxi Cab Commission will be patrolling the strip to make sure that cab drivers are following the rules -- customers can be dropped off as usual along 18th, but no one can enter a cab along the strip. (One exception: Handicapped patrons can hail a cab wherever they want.)

The first question that popped into my head: What's going to stop everyone from just heading up to Columbia Road en masse and hailing cabs there, rather than waiting in line, or stumbling down to U Street or Connecticut Avenue?

"This is a pilot project for 90 days," Barden says. "If there are things that need to be tweaked, we can make changes."

If it all works, though, it should make Adams Morgan a much more pleasant place to visit -- and leave -- on weekend nights.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | November 14, 2008; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Restaurants  
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Sort of unrelated, but I've been noticing more cab drivers refusing to pick up fares after asking where they are this allowed? I thought they had to pick you up? FWIW--I live in NW DC and generally go out in NW DC.

Posted by: ErinC1 | November 14, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I've gone over this with the Taxi Cab Commission before. Drivers are not allowed to ask you where you're going before you enter the cab, or deny you a ride as long as you're going somewhere in the metropolitan area -- especially if the start and end point are in D.C. If it happens, get the cab's license plate number and, if possible, the cab number, and report them to the Commission, which you can find at

Posted by: Fritz Hahn | November 14, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

We used to work near a cab stand like this in Hong Kong. The area was so congested they just put up a pickup area in one central location and everyone would line up. The lines sometimes would get long, but cabbies knew 'go here for a quick fare' and it worked pretty well.

Something else I'd like to see put in place are some 'red routes'--i.e. areas with absolutely no stopping or drop off whatsoever. This improves flow through some congestion areas and would be a welcome addition in some places downtown.

Posted by: idiparker | November 14, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

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