An undercover investigation has found that D.C. cabs are 25 percent less likely to pick up a black passenger than a white passenger.
According to WUSA9 which conducted the series of investigations:
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 [and who] DC cabs would refuse.
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.
WUSA9 found that the longest wait time for a black passenger was about two and a half times the longest wait time for a white. On the average, black passengers waited 14 minutes and 45 seconds, while white passengers waited 5 minutes, 44 seconds.
WUSA9 reports that when confronted drivers routinely denied seeing the black passengers, but they would sometimes do u-turns in the middle of the street to serve white customers.
A second WUSA9 investigation in December found that 15 percent of black customers were denied service.
When confronted many of the drivers claimed they did not notice the race of the passenger. In a particular case a cab refused a black passenger after being told the destination but picked up a white passenger who requested the same destination a hundred feet ahead.
When confronted the driver said: "I didn't know he was white. I drive for anybody."
But he later apologized.
After initially claiming he did not notice the race of the passenger, one driver admitted that his decision was influenced by the race.
A third WUSA9 investigation, according to The Huffington Post, found that people with disabilities also suffered discrimination. About 50 per cent of drivers ignored disabled passengers and when they did pick them up they would sometimes take them to "the wrong location without warning, or charged an illegal extra fee."
WUSA9 reports that taxi drivers caught on camera discriminating against black passengers were fined.
According to WUSA9:
The DC Taxi Commission says it issued 15 citations, including $500 fines for refusing to pick up black and disabled passengers, while tracking an undercover WUSA9 investigation.
The lack of service was so blatant, people on the street laughed loudly as they watched one cab after another pass by the WUSA9 decoys.
WUSA9 has set up a website where people can report their experience of discrimination.