December 14, 2012

Recently, the D.C. Council made major changes to the city’s taxi service, requiring improvements such as global positioning system meters and credit card readers. But it didn’t stop there. Concerned that the District’s many-colored cabs confuse people, it ordered all cabs painted alike by 2020 [“Potential cab colors unveiled,” Metro, Dec. 11].

This is a wasted effort that won’t solve the recognition problem. Here’s why: Coloring all cabs alike will make them distinctive but not distinguishable. With uniform paint schemes, if a speeding cab sideswipes you, you’ll only be able to say, “It was a cab.” Plus, until 2020, both the new and old colors will be on the streets. Rider confusion will go up, not down. And with the new schemes, you’ll have to learn to spot cabs that are unlike any other city’s.

If the council must insist on a uniformly colored cab fleet, it should go with yellow. Yellow passes former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous obscenity test: You know it when you see it. There’s a simple solution. Simply require all cabs have a yellow dayglow stripe down their hood. It’s quicker and cheaper than a complete paint job.

Carl Bergman, Washington