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Illinois House Passes Bill Regulating Rideshare Businesses
Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 | Updated 7:57 PM CDT
Businesses such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar may soon have to drastically change the way they do business in Illinois.
The Illinois House passed HB 4075 Thursday, which implements new regulations for rideshare services.
The bill would require rideshare drivers to have a chauffeur's license, to get commercial insurance, prohibits drivers from picking up or discharging passengers from any commercial airport, convention center or designated taxicab stands, queues, or loading zones. The bill still allows surge pricing, charging in excess of the highest per-mile rate charged by taxi cabs during high-demand periods.
Uber posted an online petition to save uberX, which had 12,385 signatures as of this writing.
Uber Chicago's general manager Andrew Macdonald issued a statement calling the bill a "backroom rush-job" by sponsor Rep. Mike Zalewski, and describes the 18 hour weekly driver limit as "an onerous cap" designed to protect the taxi industry's profits.
"The passage of HB4075 in its current form destroys thousands of jobs in Chicago, slashes income opportunities for Chicago's rideshare drivers, and effectively shuts down uberX in Chicago. Today is a win for the corporate taxi special interests and a loss for the thousands of Uber users in Chicago who banded together in short order to save ridesharing in Illinois and were effectively ignored. -- Andrew McDonald
The Illinois Transportation Trade Association (ITTA) released a statement praising the House decision, saying it levels the playing field and protects public's safety.
"Notwithstanding Uber's last-minute dirty tricks in the form of canned and deceitful e-mails, the House members recognized the bill balances the needs of the ridesharing industry and minimum standards designed to protect the public," the statement read.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
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"City halts ride-sharing company's foray into Chicago airports"
The city has shooed away the first attempt by a ride-share company to make illegal inroads at Chicago's airports, which up until now have been the profitable domain of taxis and limos fiercely competing for passengers.
The four-day episode started last weekend, when UberX told its drivers that they could start picking up clients who ordered rides from O'Hare International and Midway airports using smartphone apps. It also marked the latest skirmish in the continuing battle over the future of Chicago's rides-for-hire industry, which the Emanuel administration has supported expanding to give consumers more options.
The fight pits ride-share drivers, described by their companies as part-timers who use their own vehicles to earn a little extra money each week, against cabbies who drive the streets up to 16 hours a day, including waiting bumper to bumper at airport check-in stations and paying for the $4 departure stamp for each trip they pick up at the airports.
The players behind the scenes are the technology entrepreneurs who run the app-based ride-share (officially called “transportation network provider”) businesses and the titans of taxicab companies who have invested upward of $300,000 per Chicago taxi license, or medallion.
The new clash began last Friday, when UberX sent an electronic message to its drivers telling them that, “effective immediately,” passenger pickups were allowed at O'Hare and Midway for the first time.
Despite the bulletin, which was headlined “urgent news,” nothing had changed. Under city ordinance, only licensed taxicabs and chauffeur services are permitted to serve the airports. Those services pay city taxes that ride-share companies do not.
The UberX message went on to provide airport terminal maps and “tips” for ride-share drivers picking up airport passengers who request rides using the company's smartphone app. The advice included telling drivers to wait in the airports' free cell phone parking lots until customers order rides, then to use the “friends and family pickup lane” outside the terminal — apparently in order to blend in with the regular drivers in private vehicles picking up travelers.
Taxicabs and limousines are assigned to specific staging areas for commercial vehicles.
UberX's bid to penetrate the airport market occurred as the city is honing its first regulations on the commercial ride-share industry, which appeared here more than a year ago. The Emanuel administration's proposed ordinance, amended three times, is awaiting final action before the City Council.
The proposal would continue to ban ride-share companies like UberX, SideCar and Lyft from serving the airports and McCormick Place, although city officials did not rule out changes in the future.
One of the complaints from the taxi and limousine industry is that the measures are too lenient and will drive the professional livery services out of existence. That sentiment was echoed Tuesday by Chicago cab drivers who were asked about UberX's airport activity and the ride-share industry more generally.
“We don't have enough business as it is,” said Isaac John, a driver for Yellow Cab Co. who was picking up customers outside the Palmer House on Tuesday. “Seven out of 10 cab drivers will tell you they have to work seven days a week to survive.”
Femi Babatunde, who was also waiting on a fare outside the Palmer House, said his two to three airport trips on an average day account for 40 percent of his income. He typically waits at an airport for about 90 minutes for a $40 fare, he said. That's what he'd make per hour on his best days. On a bad day, he said, he might make $10 per hour. Ride-share drivers would extend the already long wait at the airport, he predicted.
“We would be there for like four or five hours,” said Babatunde, who has been a cab driver for 24 years. “I would drop out. … I would consider that.”
Not all cab drivers are as passionately against the prospect, however. Emanuel Adula had just come back from one of the airports during rush hour Tuesday but said that traffic extended what would normally be a 15-minute trip to downtown to 45 minutes.
“When I came back, it was not worth it,” Adula said of the $40 fare. “For me it's not important. I don't care really.”
The United Taxidrivers Community Council, which is attempting to unionize Chicago taxi drivers, reported the UberX violations at O'Hare and Midway to the city, which on Monday ordered the company to stop picking up passengers at the airports, said Mika Stambaugh, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
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