DC has unveiled 4 options for a uniform citywide taxicab paint scheme. DCist’s Martin Austermuhle is live-tweeting the presentation.

Here they are:


Photo by Martin Austermuhle.



Although it’s not online yet, officials say there will be a survey on dctaxi.dc.gov asking for feedback. After that, the city will presumably pick a livery and set a timeline for adoption.

It’s a little unclear, but while this shows both 4 liveries and 4 possible vehicle types, all vehicles will have the same livery.

What do you think? We have differing views.

Choose red for a consistent brand


by Dan Malouff

Back in 2009, I said that by not having a uniform color scheme, DC is losing out on an important branding opportunity. New York’s yellow taxis are one of the strongest images associated with that city. Since DC has as many cabs per capita as New York, the same could be true here.

Red is the natural choice. We want something distinctly different from New York, and clearly associated with DC. Since red is already the primary color of DC Circulator, Capital Bikeshare, and the future DC Streetcars, it makes sense to use the same colors on taxis. Doing so evokes a uniform brand for the city’s entire transportation system, across multiple modes.


Photo by Martin Austermuhle.


Two of the options released today use red. One of them, pictured here, uses the same shade as Circulator and Bikeshare, and includes a similar yellow stripe down the side. Of the 4 options, this is the best. But it would be better with red and white reversed, so that red is the dominant color.

Ideally I’d prefer a simple solid red, with maybe some yellow highlights. But since there are a lot of solid red private cars out there that aren’t taxis (which isn’t a problem for New York’s yellow), I’m willing to concede that something a little more complex is necessary here. If we want red, it may need to be multi-colored.

Make it more professional, or choose none at all


by David Alpert

Dan is right that it’s not a bad idea to evoke the Circulator and DC Streetcar branding. However, where the Circulator and streetcar are elegant, this looks amateurish.


Photo by DDOTDC on Flickr.


The Circulator and streetcar have delicate, curving yellow lines, while this has a thick, straight one. On those, the yellow line is the interface between red and white; here, the yellow line is its own separate piece with white between it and red, giving this far more interfaces between colors.

Dan is right that red and white is better than the other set of colors, yellow and green. That is Arlington Transit’s color scheme; why should DC taxis look like Arlington buses?

Having the white on top means that from the front, most taxis will just look white, which defeats much of the purpose of giving them a uniform color. The Taxicab Commission could fix this one point by flipping red and white, as Dan suggests, but that won’t make the design attractive.

I generally don’t think we need a uniform brand at all. This push for a uniform color seems to be regulating for regulating’s sake. If we are set on it, though, either the design has to look more professional, like the Circulator, or be much more simple, such as one color or two in a simple configuration.

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Tagged: dc, taxis

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post .

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.