A group of taxicab companies has petitioned the D.C. Public Service Commission to strike down a plan by the Washington Hilton Hotel to charge hackers $10 a month for use of the hotel's taxicab stand.
Cab company officials said the hotel's plan, which is scheduled to go into effect Feb. 1, violates a city law aimed at keeping cab stands open to all drivers.
Company officials said the proposal, if allowed to stand, would set a trend for other hotels in the city and create a financial hardship for drivers he said are already hard-pressed to make a living.
"It's going to be a massive problem," said William J. Wright, chairman of the Taxicab Industry Group, representing about 4,000 drivers. "We'll do everything we can to fight it."
Cab companies in the city were notified several months ago of the Hilton's plan to limit access to its stand at Connecticut Avenue and T Street NW to drivers who pay a $10 fee.
The Public Service Commission has scheduled a hearing Monday to consider charges by Wright and others that the fee violates a law passed by the City Council earlier this year that eliminated exclusive taxicab stands in the city.
Hilton resident manager Joseph Rantisi confirmed the hotel's plans to implement the fee, but declined to discuss the plan.
Industry officials said Rantisi has told them the fee is designed to eliminate problems at the hotel's taxi stand created by drivers who refuse to take certain passengers or who leave their cars unattended.
Wright said the hotel should take such problems before the Public Service Commission, rather than charge a fee.
"I'm convinced that if one hotel starts, they're all going to start," said Andrew Schaeffer, vice president of Liberty Cab Association, which operates about 650 cabs. "The poor cab driver's got a hard time making it now. If they start assessing him, it's going to be a tough row to hoe."