NO FINGERPRINTS FOR RIDE- HAILING DRIVERS
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday proposed surge pricing, older vehicles and other regulatory relief to save Chicago’s shrinking taxicab industry but allowed ride- hailing drivers to escape fingerprinting.
“This is gonna create a level playing field between the two industries as we better serve our city,” said Emanuel, whose brother is an Uber investor.
Last month, City Hall demanded that Lyft replace its background checker, review all 27,000 of its drivers and conduct random audits with results shared with the city after acknowledging that one of its drivers had a federal conviction for aiding terrorism.
In spite of that embarrassing oversight, the mayor’s plan drops the fingerprinting proposal that prompted a threat by Uber and Lyft to leave the Chicago market in favor of more rigid criminal background checks, quarterly spot- checks and audits.
Emanuel also proposed regulatory relief for the fast- growing ride- hailing industry that includes relaxed vehicle sign requirements, quarterly reports instead of monthly, annual debt checks instead of every six months and a streamlined license renewal process.
Those changes would seem to give ride- hailing an even greater advantage over taxis.
To counter that perception, the mayor is proposing even greater regulatory relief for the heavily regulated taxicab industry.
The sweeping changes would allow struggling Chicago cabdrivers, many of them facing foreclosure on taxicab medallions that have plummeted in value, to drive their vehicles for 10 years instead of seven and authorize them to drive used vehicles with 125,000 miles, instead of 75,000.
Cabbies could also offer prearranged fares when provided through an app and incorporate GPS- based taxi meters approved by state and federal agencies. That could pave the way for surge pricing, just like Uber, Lyft and Via do during periods of high demand.
“If they have the technology and we have approved the technology and they can ensure the consumer accepts the fare in advance of the trip, they will be allowed to use surge pricing,” said Business Affairs and Consumer Protection spokesperson Lilia Chacon.
The city also would bolster the shrinking pool of cabbies by allowing active ride- hailing drivers, livery chauffeurs and commercial driver’s license holders to apply for taxi chauffeur’s licenses without taking an “initial taxicab driver training course.”
Cab Drivers United/ AFSCME said Emanuel’s plan “adopts a few” of the union’s recommendations but is too little, too late.
“Taxi driver jobs have been decimated, and thousands of medallions are facing foreclosure, yet the city nibbles around the edges, allowing billion- dollar ride- hailing corporations to keep clogging our streets while making their own rules,” the union said.