Ald. Anthony Beale (9) will ask members of his Transportation Committee and Ald. Emma Mitts’ (37) License Committee to approve his plan to strengthen regulations on the ride-sharing industry in Chicago this Friday.
The License and Transportation Committees orignally scheduled a joint hearing for 1:00 p.m. today to consider Ald. Beale’s proposal that would require drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft apply for a special license with the city and get fingerprinted by an outside contractor chosen by the Police Department. Yesterday, Beale amended the notice, rescheduling the meeting for this Friday afternoon. Under the ordinance, at least 5% of all Uber and Lyft cars in Chicago would have to be handicap accessible.
Yesterday afternoon, Ald. Beale’s office told Aldertrack that he plans to advance the proposal without any last minute changes added. Since he introduced the plan in March, two-thirds of the Council have signed up as co-sponsors. And at a day-long subject matter hearing on the proposal held in May, it became quite clear that few aldermen, save for Proco Joe Moreno (1), are willing to defend the way Uber and Lyft do business.
At that hearing, Ald. Moreno was in the minority when he argued that Uber helps Chicago because it has opened up and diversified the industry, while also providing ease and security for riders. A Yellow Cab driver, sitting in the gallery when Moreno made that comment, stood up to scream “You lie!” before Council security had the man take his seat. It’s unclear if Friday’s hearing will be as boisterous. Ald. Beale’s office says they don’t have a lineup of expected witnesses.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), the city agency that would oversee the new rules, has opposed the plan in its current form, arguing that drivers for ride-sharing companies should not be subject to the same regulations as yellow taxi drivers, because most are considered part-time. BACP did not respond to Aldertrack’s requests for comment yesterday.
Uber has made a substantial local cable advertising buy in the wake of the upcoming vote, spending $203,855 on more than 4,000 commercials to air on 17 stations, including MSNBC, CNN, BET, ESPN, and the Food Network. The ads are scheduled to run through June 22, the date of the full City Council meeting. The Illinois Transportation Trade Association (ITTA), which represents the yellow taxi industry, has also ramped up its lobbying efforts, donating about $35,000 to aldermen on both committees.