When we noted late last year that cab drivers were breaking laws galore at Union Station, the station management and the dispatchers acted quickly to post the rules and move that line of taxis along swiftly instead of letting drivers pack in passengers in random fashion. And as far as we can tell, things are more or less all right up there today (we keep on checking all around town). But National Airport is another story -- with all sorts of unpleasant endings, most of which could use English subtitles.

Until somebody official does something drastic to check on cabbies without either credentials or a command of the local language, geography and legal codes, too much of the service will ontinue to range from abominable to outright crooked.

It's hurting more than passengers, too. The many hard-working, courteous and honest cab drivers -- national and foreign alike -- who are trying to make a living delivering people to their destinations efficiently are suffering at the hands of those who abuse the rules or get lost at every turn. The unfortunate result is that people in Greater Washington are finding cab riding to be the most unpleasant and unreliable method of Getting There. That's not good for the industry, to say noth But we've seen no great official effort on the part of anybody in uniform or in authority to move in on the mess at those awful loading areas at National. Until there are stiffer qualification tests for taxi drivers throughout the region -- upheld by rigorous posting and enforcement of rules -- it will be up to the riding public to take names, numbers, times, dates and any other pertinent information about shoddy treatment.

In the District, at least, there is supposed to be a notice posted in every cab telling you how to lodge a complaint. Officials are attempting to speed this process and help every passenger who insists on upholding the laws. Punishments are stiff, and if legislation being pushed by D.C. Council member H. R. Crawford is enacted, qualifications for a hacker's license will stiffen, too. As for specific complaints about non-D.C. drivers, why not send them to your local lawmakers on the councils and boards? As we said a few weeks ago, it's crackdown time.