Of course, they think of yellow because of New York. New York’s taxis have been painted yellow since 1967, when the city decided it was the best way to cut down on unlicensed cabs. Does D.C. really want to be New York? (Isn’t that what it comes down to, again and again? Is D.C. tryyying to be New Yoooork?).
Lee Eiseman used to live in Georgetown; she knows the complexity of Washington. She’s also a color expert. It’s not a woo-woo title; she runs a business helping companies find meaning in their palettes. One of her major clients is Pantone, creator of the Pantone Matching System. If you saw articles earlier this year heralding emerald green as the color of 2013, that was Eiseman’s team — a decision made after months of research.
Eiseman is e-mailed pictures of the four options that were on display at the auto show.
“The Kelly green would be best,” she says in a phone interview. But it has yellow in it. “And do you really want to be derivative of New York?”
If Eiseman had her druthers, she would make the cabs one simple color, and that color would be orange. “There’s a happy quality that goes along with it, because its made up of yellow and red,” she says. Yellow is a warm and inviting color, she says, and red represents energy and speed.
“Orange,” she says. “Orange would be my top choice.”
In Cheh’s online survey, only 11 percent of respondents liked orange.
‘I drive a beautiful car’
It’s a weekday evening at the Capitol View branch of the D.C. Public Library. The One Color Panel of the D.C. Taxicab Commission is holding a forum — the last chance for the public to comment on the future of their city streets. The meeting will be held in a fluorescent basement room of the Southeast library. Rows and rows of plastic chairs have been set up to accommodate the seething public.
At 6 p.m., the scheduled start time, the public shows up. The public consists of one journalist from The Washington Post. There’s no public at all. There is just the journalist, Stanley Tapscott — the representative from the One Color Panel — and Neville Waters, the commission’s communications specialist. The paradox of public engagement: The public is engaged when it involves writing a bilious e-mail. The public is not engaged when it involves missing dinner.
Tapscott is on the taxicab commission, but he’s also a driver. He has been for 50 years, most of them with Capitol Taxi. He has the settled, drum-bellied look of a man who’s spent most of his life behind the wheel of a car. It is very reassuring.