DC cabbies join protest against online services

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The union that represents taxi drivers in the nation's capitol is protesting popular online cab services like UberX and Lyft near the Capitol. 

The protest is being organized by the Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association, which is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union. 

The union said cab drivers in the nation’s capital are upset because Internet-based taxi services don't face the same regulations as rank-and-file operators. 

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“The services, such as UberX and Lyft, are operating illegally in the city and are stealing work from D.C. taxi drivers,” the union said in a news release.  

“Last year, the city gave the services an extension to operate until regulations were in place,” the news release continued. “The extension ended several months ago but the city failed to enact fair regulations, giving the private sedan services a big competitive edge. There’s a risk to the public as well. For example, drivers for the private sedan services are not required to undergo thorough background checks.”

The union’s protest involves a slow-moving taxi caravan that began Wednesday morning at Washington’s East Potomac Park. The drivers are planning to proceed to the U.S. Capitol and end at Freedom Plaza, which is located near the City Hall building in downtown Washington. 

Union President Ferline Buie said her members are making the case that the rules governing online cab services were unfair to traditional drivers. 

“The D.C. drivers have seen the protests across the United States and around the world, and today it is their turn to join the growing chorus calling for these services to follow the same rules and regulations that they must follow,” Buie said. “All they want is a level playing field.”

Traffic delays caused by the taxi protest are affecting driverless car rides that were scheduled for lawmakers on Wednesday.