Chicago to consider ride-share app regulation

Chicago to consider ride-share app regulation

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago has become a ride-sharing hotspot, with use of apps like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar skyrocketing. But now the city wants to begin regulating those taxicab alternatives.

The City of Chicago has been generally supportive of the ride-sharing business thus far. But because it is becoming so popular, city officials are calling for more regulation for companies using the new business model.

The apps connect people that need a ride with those that need some money. The companies have been operating freely in Chicago for about a year and are not required to have a special license. But that is about to change.

The new proposed ordinance would require companies to do criminal background checks on drivers and liability insurance, impose training standards and require the vehicles pass an annual 21-point inspection.

The ride sharing companies are objecting, saying they're not cab companies - they are technology companies that connect riders and drivers.

Lyft is one service that advertises being cheaper and friendlier than a taxicab. Drivers are subjected to background checks, cars are inspected, customers use their smartphones to hail them and no cash is exchanged. Many riders prefer to use services like Lyft and Sidecar, and it's hurting cab drivers' income.

But cab drivers said it is about time the city approved legislation to eliminate what they call an unfair advantage. Chicago taxi drivers do have to go through the regulations being considered for ride-share drivers. That's why a group of cabbies sued Uber recently, saying their competitors are just drivers without city taxi licenses.

"We have to pay the lease and we have to go through licensing with the city. They don't have to go through any of that. Some of them don't even have to carry insurance," one taxi driver told FOX 32 News. "This is the only way we can make money and earn a living."

He told FOX 32 that he and many of his counterparts have almost reached the mindset of" if you can't beat them, join them," unless the city is going to do something about regulating these rideshare apps and their drivers.

The ride sharing companies say it is all a grab about money, but the cab companies say they have got level the playing field.

"I am a professional cab driver. I took the classes at Harold Washington College. The exam is tough," one taxi driver told FOX 32 news. "I studied hard. I work hard. I paid a lot of money, I went to the school and college. I got this professional license."

The ordinance would require that ride-sharing companies pay the city a licensing fee of $25,000 a year, plus $25 for each of their drivers. It would also require them to pay the city's ground transportation tax.

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