A plan to impose stricter regulations on ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft could get a City Council Committee hearing as early as next Tuesday, according to main sponsor Ald. Anthony Beale (9).
Speaking to reporters after yesterday’s Transportation Committee meeting, Ald. Beale said that if both sides–the taxi industry and Uber–can reach an agreement on a plan requiring all ride-share drivers get a chauffeur’s license, additional background checks and fingerprinting, the plan could advance to the full Council in time for their monthly meeting next Wednesday.
It would have to be heard by a joint hearing of the Council’s License and Transportation Committees. Ald. Beale said he’s confident he has the votes to get it through without any amendments.
“[We] continue to move forward, we’re adding sponsors every single day,” Ald. Beale said. “I think my colleagues see that we need to regulate this industry and we can’t allow them to police themselves. Because [Uber has shown that they can’t be trusted.”
Asked if he’s willing to budge on some of the provisions–like reducing regulations on yellow cab drivers in lieu of imposing stricter rules on ride-share drivers–Ald. Beale said it was a non-starter.
“What you are looking at is a new innovative company that is coming into the market and wants everyone to bow down and kowtow to them, instead of them working their way into the system as the system currently is,” Beale said.
“I’ve never seen a company come in and say ‘Deregulate everybody, because we’re here, and totally disregard the law that is currently on the books.’ That’s what they’ve been doing and that’s what they want to be able to continue to do,” Beale added.
Asked to describe the status of the ongoing private negotiations between the administration and the taxi industry, or whether an amendment to the ordinance is expected, Ald. Beale sidestepped the question and would only affirm that he has the votes to get his original plan through the council.
Since he introduced the plan in March, 33 aldermen have signed on as co-sponsors, he said. “I’m very confident in the position that we are currently in. Of course I am trying to work some issues out, and I think if we can work those issues out. Then I think that we can think we can hit a home run.”
But the Emanuel Administration isn’t dead set on letting the plan through as it’s currently written. Yesterday Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek held a private meeting with the Illinois Transportation Trade Association (ITTA) and other members of the pro-taxi coalition.
According to ITTA’s attorney Mara Georges, who was at the meeting, Lapacek suggested that the new regulations include a distinction between drivers that use the ride-hailing platforms part time versus those who drive more than six hours a day. But Georges said the group wasn’t interested in that plan because it would be very difficult for the city to properly regulate and track how many hours worked for individual drivers.
BACP doesn’t think requiring a chauffeur’s license is reasonable, Georges told Aldertrack, adding that no changes to the ordinance or compromises were made during the meeting.
ITTA refuses to concede the licensing or the accessibility requirement, which would mandate at least 5% of ride share cars be wheelchair accessible, with the same response times and pricing as cars that aren’t.
Asked if Ald. Beale’s ordinance would do enough to bring parity among the two industries, and if it was enough for ITTA to withdraw its lawsuit against the city over its allegedly unequal laws governing medallion taxis and ride-hailing drivers, Georges said it “would go a long way,” but she’d need to see how it works out before there’s any talk about withdrawing the entire suit.