Members of the Illinois Transportation Trade Association (ITTA), the lobbying arm of the city’s taxi-industry, are meeting privately with the Mayor’s staff today to discuss an ordinance that would impose stricter regulations on ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft–a move that could signal the administration is warming up to the plan after months of opposition.
Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek, Mara Georges, who represents ITTA, members of AFSCME and Communities United are all expected to attend the private meeting, sources tell Aldertrack.
Since Ald. Anthony Beale (9) introduced an ordinance in March that would impose stricter regulations on ride-hailing companies, more than 30 aldermen have signed on as co-sponsors, including powerful Finance Chairman Ed Burke (14), who during the council budget meetings last fall noted that multi-billion-dollar company Uber isn’t paying its fair share in city taxes.
Ald. Beale’s ordinance doesn’t deal with taxes. But it would require all Lyft, Uber and other drivers who work for ride-hailing apps apply for a full-time chauffeur’s license, which comes with added fees for background checks and fingerprinting. At least 5% of all ride-share cars would have to be wheelchair accessible with the same pricing and response times as the rest of the fleet, under the ordinance.
Those are two provisions the taxi-industry believes are non-negotiable. A source close to the ongoing negotiations over Ald. Beale’s ordinance said the taxi industry refuses to decrease safety standards or regulations on the city’s yellow taxi industry as a way to create more parity among the two industries.
Earlier this spring, cabbies and other taxi industry officials told aldermen that due to their decision last fall to open the city’s airports, McCormick Place and Navy Pier to Uber and Lyft drivers, the yellow cab industry is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and medallions are plummeting in value. ITTA filed a lawsuit against the city alleging that differing regulations for cabbies and Uber violates federal equal protection laws, which could put the city on the hook for a massive payout. That lawsuit could also be the reason for the meeting, the source said.