There are no taxi ranks but you can usually find cabs outside hotels and it’s easy to flag down a DC-licensed cab around most central parts of the city. Cabs for hire have a light on top and the company name on the door.
To call a cab in the District, try Diamond (1-202 387 2221, 6200) or Yellow Cab (1-202 544 1212). Cab fares are now metered based on how many miles you travel, with extra charges for additional passengers, rush-hour travel, calling for a cab and traveling during designated snow emergencies. Bear in mind when traveling during rush hour, that time consumed while the taxicab is stopped (or traveling at less than 10mph for longer than 60 seconds) is charged (an extra $15 per hour with Yellowcabs).
Baggage charges are usually $1 for each fairly large, grocery-sized bag handled by the driver, after the first one, and $2.50 for each big bag. In reality, some cabbies charge, some don’t, depending, it seems, on their mood.
To give an idea of cost, one person, flagging the cab, with no bags, not at rush hour nor in the snow, will probably pay $14-$15 plus tip to travel from Capitol Hill to Dupont Circle.
In Maryland and Virginia, cabs also run on meters. Cabs licensed for these areas can legally only pick up fares in DC on a pre-arranged basis—and only take them to the jurisdiction in which they are licensed. That might be why, no matter how hard you’re waving on a DC street, that empty cab goes right on by.