December 12, 2011

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Anthony Beale Announce Proposed Taxi Industry Reforms

Comprehensive reform package targets safety and passenger experience while benefitting drivers and modernizing industry

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Anthony Beale, Chairman of the City Council Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, today introduced a broad set of reforms to taxi industry regulations to incentivize quality vehicles, quality drivers and a quality customer experience. The proposed changes to the taxi ordinance make specific improvements in a number of key areas that will result in increased safety for passengers, drivers, and pedestrians, while revamping regulations and providing financial incentives to put fuel-efficient and wheelchair-accessible taxis on the road.

”These reforms will increase safety and bring Chicago’s taxi fleet into the 21st century by enhancing oversight of drivers, ensuring vehicles are modern and more fuel-efficient, and giving customers a cleaner and safer ride,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These advances in the taxi industry are part of a comprehensive effort to help Chicagoans get where they need to go safely and affordably.”

The reforms begin with measures and incentives that will modernize the fleet of cabs. They will include:

  • A new limit on age of vehicles that can be put on Chicago’s roads, by lowering the maximum number of miles on a new taxi from 150,000 to 75,000;
  • A tiered lease system that will incentivize fuel-efficient and wheelchair-accessible vehicles. By raising lease-rates on more fuel efficient vehicles, vehicle owners will be incentivized to modernize and upgrade their fleet, resulting in significant fuel savings for drivers and greatly reducing environmental impacts; and
  • A standardized lease system that will restrict the add-on and supplemental charges that companies are incorporating in their leases to protect drivers from illegal overcharges.

“These are commonsense reforms that are in line with the interests of cabdrivers, passengers, and the companies,” said Alderman Beale. “The result will be a more efficient taxi industry that will serve the public in a better, more efficient, and most importantly, safer manner.”

The reforms result from a comprehensive review of the taxi industry led by the City and include input from taxi companies, drivers, independent owner-operators and aldermen. Reforms touch all aspects of the taxi industry and include:

  • Real-time access to the Secretary of State’s moving violation’s database, which will allow the City to take dangerous drivers off the street immediately, instead of waiting for annual reviews. Additionally, this will eliminate the need for drivers to submit their own driving records;
  • A partnership with the Chicago Police Department for ticketing information, so City regulators have access to moving violation tickets. These incidents will now be added to the driver watch list, and help ensure that cab drivers are following the rules of the road consistently;
  • Denial of renewal for chauffeurs with three moving violations in a 12-month period;
  • A limitation to no more than 12 hours of driving each day for drivers, in line with federal motor vehicle safety laws, as well as industry standards for other drivers of commercial vehicles;
  • A revamping of the City Colleges of Chicago coursework for taxi drivers, with an increased focus on safety and mandatory behind-the-wheel training;
  • An incentive for wheelchair accessible vehicles of $100 off of the annual $600 medallion fee, to encourage companies to make more of their cabs wheelchair accessible. Additionally, any cab company with more than 20 cabs must maintain at least five percent as accessible vehicles;
  • A new category of licenses for so-called “jitney” cars, which will bring regulation, licensing, safety and structure to this industry, and improve service to underserved areas;
  • Mandatory swipe machines in the back of each taxi for credit cards to increase ease of access and speed for credit card transactions; and
  • Installation of GPS technology into cabs, to improve application development for people looking to hail a taxi in their neighborhood.

The ordinance will be proposed at the City Council meeting on December 14, by Alderman Beale.

Officials in the taxi industry voiced their support of the proposed reforms on Monday.

"These new ordinances represent a win for passengers, drivers and medallion operators alike. The provisions created to promote technological advancement and fuel efficiency will enable us to further the programs and ideals to which we have already committed our firm,” said Michael Levine, CEO of Yellow Cab Chicago.

Sabir Waheed, who owns nine taxi medallions, stated "This effort shows a commitment by the City to the small to mid-size owners in the taxi industry."

"These reforms point the industry in the right direction,” said Baxter Swilley, representing the Chicago Taxicab Operators Association.

And Cometus Dilanjian, President of City Service Taxi Association, said "This new regulation is cleaner and simpler for industry to follow."


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