January 18, 2012

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Anthony Beale Announce Taxi Industry Reforms Passed by City Council

Comprehensive Reform Package Targets Safety and Passenger Experience While Benefitting Drivers and Modernizing Industry

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

The City Council passed a broad set of reforms to taxi industry regulations today that will increase safety for passengers, drivers and pedestrians, revamp regulations for effective enforcement and provide financial incentives to put more 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 ensuring vehicles are modern and more fuel-efficient while 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 are a result of a comprehensive review of the taxi industry led by the City, including input from drivers, owners and passenger groups.  After months of meetings, input from these groups was incorporated into the ordinance, while maintaining the focus on safety.

Measures and Incentives to Modernize Cabs:

  • A limit on age of vehicles that can be put on Chicago’s roads;
  • A tiered lease system to incentivize fuel-efficient and wheelchair-accessible vehicles;
  • A standardized lease system that restricts the add-on and supplemental charges by some owners to protect drivers from illegal overcharges.

The reduced mileage requirements will be met in phases and the options for fuel efficient vehicles were expanded to include models popular with drivers and owners, so changes can be implemented reasonably and with minimal disruption to the industry.

“These are commonsense reforms that are in line with the interests of cabdrivers, passengers and 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.”

Safety Reforms: 

  • Real-time access to the Secretary of State’s moving violation database and a partnership with the Chicago Police Department for ticketing information;  
  • Denial of renewal for chauffeurs with three moving violations in a 12-month period;
  • A limitation to no more than 12 consecutive hours of driving each day for drivers, in line with federal motor vehicle safety laws and industry standards;
  • A revamp of the City Colleges of Chicago coursework for taxi drivers, with an increased focus on safety, mandatory behind-the-wheel training, and business skills. 

Accessibility Reforms:

  • Cab owners with more than 20 cabs must maintain at least 5% as accessible vehicles;
  • An industry-funded wheelchair accessibility vehicle fund to reimburse and incentivize the industry to place more than the mandated 5% wheelchair accessible taxicabs into service;
  • An incentive for wheelchair accessible vehicles of $100 off of the annual $600 medallion fee. 

Service Improvements:

  • A category of licenses for “jitney” cars, to bring regulation, licensing, safety and structure to this industry, and improve service to underserved areas;
  • Mandatory credit card swipe machines in the back of each taxi to increase ease of access and speed for credit card transactions;
  • Installation of GPS technology into cabs, to improve application development for people looking to hail a taxi in their neighborhood.
  • The $1 fuel surcharge, which has been in place consistently for more than two years, will be added to the flag pull rate, to reduce confusion. Instead of a $2.25 flag pull and a $1 fuel surcharge, customers will pay a $3.25 flag pull and no fuel surcharge.

"This was a tremendous team effort made possible under the leadership of Alderman Beale and Commissioner Krimbel and the input of everyone with an interest in the Chicago taxi industry. We now have the reforms necessary to provide improved taxi service in Chicago for passengers, drivers and owners, to put it simply, we needed this to move in the right direction," said Baxter Swilley, representing the Chicago Taxicab Operators Association.

John Moberg, President of the Checker Taxi Affiliation, said “We appreciate the Mayor’s office and the commissioner for meeting with us and hearing our concerns. As a result, we have an equitable ordinance for all.”



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