Two aldermen called today for an immediate crackdown on “shared-ride’’ companies and other unregulated livery operators in Chicago, saying a new ordinance that the Emanuel administration plans to introduce to license the new transportation businesses is not needed.
“The law is already on the books. It simply has to be enforced,’’ said Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, who along with Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, introduced a resolution calling on the city to strictly enforce the existing municipal code.
The Tribune reported Monday that the Emanuel administration, which for more than a year has supported the concept of shared rides for a fee – involving technology companies that recruit individuals who use their own private vehicles to provide trips to customers – now believes that regulation is needed to guarantee safety and for consumer protection.
Ride-share companies including Uber X, Sidecar and Lyft use smartphone apps to attract customers and the companies do not regard themselves as being direct transportation providers. David Spielfogel, senior advisor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, told the Tribune that the fast-growing ride-share industry has been “operating in a regulatory vacuum.’’
The administration’s proposed ordinance leaves it up to the companies to decide whether fares will be based on distance traveled or time elapsed, but not both; or on a flat rate; or a “suggested donation.’’ In addition, fare rates must be listed on the licensee’s web site and on the app that is used to connect drivers and passengers.
The proposed ordinance lays out vehicle inspection rules and would require shared-ride companies to train drivers and test them for illegal drugs. It also requires the companies to obtain comprehensive commercial liability insurance that covers all vehicles that operate as ride-share vehicles. The ordinance sets a $25,000 license fee for ride-share companies, plus $25 per driver. It also requires the companies to pay the city's ground transportation tax, among other requirements.
Taxicab medallions in Chicago currently cost more than $300,000 per vehicle.
But the legislation introduced by Burke and Beale today called on the mayor and the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to use the existing provisions in the transportation section of the municipal code that are already adhered to by taxicab and limousine companies and their drivers.
Burke cited a section of the municipal code that states, “It is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle, or for the registered owner thereof to permit it to be operated, for the transportation of passengers for hire within the city unless it is licensed by the city as a taxicab.’’
Beale said: “These shared-ride companies are both unregulated and unlicensed, and for all we know they also lack the proper insurance. There are very legitimate reasons why these regulations were put on the books in the first place. And I see no reason why we should look the other way and ignore them so that these companies can operate free of them.’’
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