WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- A WUSA9 taxi investigation assigned to explore racial disparity has identified troubles that go beyond race and show a taxi system out of control - and caught on camera.
Our undercover video shows unlicensed cabbies soliciting hailing passengers and drivers refusing to transport customers, black and white, to destinations in the District and Virginia too.
In response, the District of Columbia has set up undercover operations to monitor ongoing WUSA9 taxi investigations and cite violating drivers.
Uber has dismissed two drivers caught in our three month long investigation.
WUSA9 series identifies unlicensed cabs, destination discrimination, and blacks passengers not served, or waiting longer
Our investigations have identified black passengers waiting longer for cabs, and being stranded in favor of white by 25 percent of taxis, but additional problems of color blind destination discrimination and operators on DC streets without proper licenses.
Click here to see WUSA9 investigation showing blacks stranded by 25% of DC cabs in favor of white passengers.http://www.wusa9.com/dontmiss/241642/379/Undercover-Taxi-Probe-Finds-25-Of-Blacks-Left-Stranded
Click here to see the December WUSA9 investigation that tracked blacks refused destinations at higher rates.http://www.wusa9.com/investigation/article/232588/453/DC-Cabs-Refuse-Black-Passenger-On-Hidden-Camera
Uber drivers caught in WUSA9 sting
Uber, which gained popularity quickly after launching an iPhone app allowing users to orders black sedans at the push of a button, was among many carriers operating with DC taxi licenses, including Maryland taxis, Virginia cabs, and and unidentified man in an unmarked car that passed black passengers on DC streets in favor of white customers 100 feet down the road.
The incidents create double-trouble because only licensed DC cabs are allowed the pick-up hailing passengers in DC.
Officials say out of District cabs can drop off passengers in the district, but not pick-up hailing passengers and Uber is limited to iPhone app dispatch.
Cameras kept out of sight recorded an Uber driver as he approached a white passenger who asked if he was a taxi.
"Yes I'm Uber," the driver said. "How much you willing to pay."
He continued to offer to pick-up the passenger even after I identified myself as a TV reporter and showed him my camera.
"Wherever he wants to go is fine," the driver said. "No, no, it's not fine."
City officials and Uber say it is not 'fine.'
"We have identified two of the drivers from your video, and permanently deactivated their accounts with Uber," DC Uber manager Rachel Holt said in a statement. "Uber will not partner with a driver engaging in illegal or discriminatory behavior."
Three sedan drivers associating themselves with Uber offered rides to our hailing passengers.
Although they're not supposed to stop for any street passengers, two Uber drivers passed black passengers but stopped for a white customer 100 feet down the street..
"Why was I passed up, sir," the black passenger asked one Uber driver.
After a very long pause, the driver said, "I'm looking for my own best friend now."
It wasn't just Uber, the video shows an unidentified man in an unmarked car passing our black passenger and stopped right up in front of our white staffer.
"Are you a cab driver?" our white passenger asks.
The driver assures him he is until he sees our cameras approaching and speeds off.
Virginia and Maryland cabs offered rides on DC streets
Out of state cabs can drop off passengers in DC, butofficialssay they're outlaws if they pick up passengers in DC.
Both Maryland and Virginia cabs offered services to our undercover passengers.
Destination discrimination most common problem
Recorded on hidden microphones, cab drivers offered a multitude of excuses for not hauling white passenger or black passengers to their destinations in the District and Virginia.
"I'm off duty," "my wife just called and needs a ride", "I've got another call," and the list goes on.
Cab rules require drivers to take passengers anywhere in DC and surrounding counties.
District officials say if a cab stops to solicit a passenger, the passenger is entitled to transportation to any destination in the metropolitan area, including Montgomery, Prince George's and Fairfax Counties.
In many cases drivers who claimed they were off duty were not displaying off duty placards and had their taxi lights lighted.
One turned his light off shortly after our passenger requested a ride to Southeast DC.
Our undercover camera were there when two women got into a cab and then, almost immediately got out.
"The cab stopped and we told him we were going to Petworth because he was on his way home and that he could only take us to downtown," one of the women said.
One cab refused Fairfax County not only to once but 100 feet down the street he refused our Falls Church again.
In response to our investigation, The District of Columbia Taxi Commission has assigned undercover agents to watch our stings, cite drivers, and when they are out of state taxis, impound their vehicles.
Thursday at 11:00, we'll show taxi inspectors cracking down.
How to complain
WUSA9 has created the iAlert system to allow passengers to use their phone cameras to record drivers breaking rules. If you suspect a driver is going to refuse your destination, start recording before you reveal your destination.
If they refuse, post it at: http://www.wusa9.com/sendit/default.aspx, or send your video proof to e-mail iAlert@wusa9.com.
We'll forward iAlerts to city officials for action.
If you wish to make a complaint directly to the taxi commission, you must file it in writing and you must include the name of the operator, the tag number, date and time of the incident.
Click here to link to the DC Taxi Complaint Form:http://dctaxi.dc.gov/webform/dctaxi-complaint-form