• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

‘Another Winter:’ DC area taxi drivers feel a pinch of COVID-19 pandemic


While many people enjoy the outdoors, DC area taxi drivers are feeling the pinch from the coronavirus pandemic.

While many people enjoy the outdoors, DC area taxi drivers are feeling the pinch from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cars on the roads include taxis here and there – but they’re certainly not everywhere these days.

A driver from United Ventures Consortium, one of DC’s largest taxi companies, said business took a downturn shortly before President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over COVID-19 .

DC taxi drivers say the coronavirus pandemic is causing hardship among drivers. (WTOP / Liz Anderson)

Eight days after the declaration, taxi driver Gedle Asayehegn took some of the routes he frequently used before the pandemic – on Wisconsin Avenue and through Georgetown.

“Right now for a taxi driver, it’s zero income. You could say up to, maybe, one fare, two fares, but for taxi drivers right now, it’s on a depression scale. That’s how bad it is, ”Asayehegn said.

These two tariffs could appear in a seven hour stretch.

There were very few taxis along its typical route, although for some taxi drivers it was their only source of income.

“That’s why you don’t see taxi drivers now because everyone has given up. They are at home. There is nothing, no one to collect. In this street the hotels are empty, all the offices are empty. There is nothing, he said.

More news on the coronavirus

During the journey, no one saw anyone hailing a cab and the cabs around were empty.

How does Asayehegn plan to make ends meet?

“Well… credit cards,” he said. “We’ll see how far that goes. It is a fact for many. Saved money, credit cards or whatever, but no income yet, for everyone.

At this time of year in the DC area there would be an increase in traffic and tourism, due to warmer temperatures, spring break and cherry blossom season, which means more fares. for taxis.

“It’s another winter for taxi drivers. It’s not a source, ”Asayehegn said.

Earlier this week, Metro announced the closure of Smithsonian and Arlington National Cemetery stations. On Sunday, road closures were put in place along the tidal basin to deter people from coming to see the cherry blossoms and to encourage social distancing.

Additionally, several National Cherry Blossom Festival events have been canceled.

Asayehegn said UVC is trying to help drivers “maybe with reduced rental fees, and things like that.” But there’s not much they can do. Such problems can be alleviated with, perhaps, some type of government assistance.

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