Like the old adage says, “You can’t please everybody.”
It appears that’s the case with the city’s new rideshare ordinance, which will force companies such as Uber X, Lyft and Sidecar to adhere to regulations such as background checks, driver training and vehicle insurance and inspections, and is expected to go into effect late August.
Rideshare drivers and taxi drivers don’t see eye to eye about the implications of the regulations. Neither do politicians. And how will all this impact the passengers?
RedEye asked around.
Some drivers aren’t fond of being told they can’t pick up passengers at certain locations, including McCormick Place and the city’s airports.
At events such as Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo in April and the National Restaurant Association show in May, the cab lines at McCormick Place were long, said Dustin Morby, 26, who has been driving for Uber X and Lyft for a year.
“Why not have another service to be able to pick up there?” he said.
Under the ordinance, rideshare companies will be required to pay city taxes and licensing fees. Morby foresees the city raising prices and fees in the future. “I think it will be over-regulation. Give somebody an inch and they take a mile,” he said. He also said he’s skeptical he’d learn anything from the driver training program.
Still, he admits there are some upsides.
“I’m totally OK with having certain insurance requirements. ... That’s what any business that operates in any government, any state, any city—you have to have certain insurance,” he said. “Background checks, I’m totally OK with that, too. I don’t want to be putting my girlfriend in an Uber and not be able to trust the driver.”
Companies favored the city’s legislation because it allowed them to continue to operate in the city over the state rideshare bill, which they said would curtail the rideshare industry.
In a statement, Lyft said, “While cities and states across the country have stepped up as leaders in welcoming community-powered transportation without sacrificing public safety or consumer choice, legislators in Springfield have promoted policies that stifle innovation and protect entrenched interests.”
Riders said consumer protections are good, but so is competition for business. “As a consumer, I’m getting into their car. I’m putting on my seat belt and I want to make sure they have a working vehicle,” said Erwin Delfin, 37, who lives in Greektown.
But not being able to order an Uber ride from the airport sounded like the city was trying to protect the taxi industry, he said.
“Waiting in the queue at the airport takes forever,” said Delfin, who uses Uber X at least once a month. He liked the convenience of getting an Uber ride, especially during cold weather or when he’s been waiting for a taxi and somebody else snags the cab down the block.
Taxi drivers say the rideshare industry has taken away business. “We don’t like it,” said Almaz Tolonov, 26, a cab driver who lives in West Ridge. Rideshare drivers “should be the same as taxis,” he said.
That’s been the main gripe among the taxi industry. The ordinance requires rideshare companies to get licensed, serve the entire city and pay city taxes.
Rideshare drivers use their personal cars and give rides to passengers using a smartphone app while taxicabs must be affixed with medallions that can cost thousands of dollars. Rideshare drivers can surge prices while cab drivers cannot charge more than the metered rates set by the city.
Last month, the City Council voted 34-10 to approve the ordinance to regulate rideshare drivers.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) wanted to wait for the state to pass its regulations. “This ordinance will hurt the hard-working men and women who are driving cabs every single day,” he said.
“This is not at the expense of the taxi industry,” Mayor Emanuel said after the council vote. He called the rideshare measure “one of the most comprehensive ordinances around the country” that ensures safety to passengers.
Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.
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