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Cab vs. Uber: What's the Best Way to Get Around in DC?

Posted on Monday, September 19, 2016

You're visiting DC for business, and you need to find a way to get from your home base to your place of business; what do you do? You can try your hand at the Metro, or maybe even walk, but if you've got your hands full or if you're in a time crunch, these aren't the best choices for you. A car would be ideal, but you know that it's next to impossible to find parking in DC, or you don't have access to a car yourself. You've got a couple of options: you can call a cab, or you can download the app and request a driver from Uber. But which option is the most efficient in DC? We're breaking down the similarities and differences between DC's taxi service and Uber (and services similar to that, such as Lyft or Curb). 

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1. Apps

Of course, most people know that you can summon an Uber driver through Uber's smartphone app. First you must set up an account online, and then you're free to find a ride anywhere, anytime. The convenience is very appealing, so the DC Taxicab Commission decided to beat Uber at it's own game, unveiling its DC Taxi App just this year. Now taxi users can call a cab from the comfort of their own home— no more hanging out on the curb, waving down a taxi as it barrels down the street. 

Winner: It's a tie. 

2. Customer Service

Apparently, DC's cab drivers are historically noted to be unpleasant. There's even a website called "DC Cabs Suck". Some of their complaints are a little outdated (for example, DC cabs now accept credit cards), but the feeling is definitely heartfelt. This fact is so well established, there was an article in Forbes Magazine instructing readers how to avoid being scammed by DC's taxi drivers. To be fair, it appears that the DC Taxicab Commission has taken great lengths to improve the city's image in recent years, and they've regulated many of the issues that created the most complaints from people using their service. However, Uber's reputation is significantly better. The cars are cleaner, the drivers more pleasant, and the experience is overall nicer than riding in a taxicab. 

Winner: Uber

3. Accessibility

Unfortunately, Uber was under fire for it's unfriendliness to customers with disabilities; there have been several lawsuits, and as recently as last year, advocates claim that Uber isn't properly equipped to provide service to disabled people. Uber is attempting to rectify this issue; meanwhile, DC has provided taxi vans specially equipped to assist customers with disabilities since 2010. Users are charged at the same rate as normal cabs, and, while there might be a greater wait time, you can get the ride that you require with ease. 

Winner: Taxis

4. Cost

While in many cities, Uber is the cheaper option, in DC it appears that a taxi is a little bit more cost-effective. A taxi will cost you $5.14 for a mile, while Uber runs between $5 and $7. Of course, people rarely ride for just a mile, but it's more economical to hail a cab. The only point in which Uber pulled ahead was when you're looking at rides that cost over $35; then, they might be a little more inexpensive overall. 

Winner: Taxis

5. Convenience

While it's true that DC's trying to adapt to Uber's ride-on-demand model, Uber is still considered to be more convenient for their customers. Many of Uber's customers are willing to pay a little extra cash for a comfortable, clean, and convenient ride to their destination. They feel that the ability to choose the type of vehicle and where they're picked up is far more convenient than gambling on getting a cab that will work for your party or your needs. 

Winner: Uber

Overall, there are pros and cons to both services; it's best to decide what factors are of the most importance to you, and choose the service accordingly.

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