Taxi sign on top of vehicle

Chicago mayor seeks taxi improvements

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Chicago’s taxis to be more like Uber and Lyft.

Emanuel proposed allowing the city’s taxis to accept ride requests via mobile applications and to charge surge pricing during periods of peak demand.  The city also recommended dropping the requirement to fingerprint taxi drivers.

The recommendations are part of the mayor’s proposed 2018 budget which also seeks a 15-cent increase (and another 5 cents in 2019) in the current 52-cent fee on each transportation network company trip.  The fee would raise $16 million in the first year and an additional $5 million in the second year to support the Chicago Transit Authority (IL).

The proposal follows the release of a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago, prepared at the request of the mayor, that was expected to look at the question of fingerprinting drivers for transportation network companies. But one Chicago alderman said the report side-stepped the fingerprinting issue.  “I’m really speechless at the outcome of this so-called study, because it did not address the objective that it was supposed to address,” said alderman Anthony Beale, who is an advocate for the taxi industry. “And that is, do we need to fingerprint: yes or no?”

Instead of exploring the question of fingerprinting, the report compared citation and arrest records between taxi and TNC drivers.  Emanuel said fingerprinting wasn’t the issue.  “The question is, what does it take to make sure that there’s safety, and that’s the end point,” he said. “There’s facial recognition technology, there’s biometric technology that can relate to safety.”

He added, “It’s not about one tool, it’s about the goal of safety and what tools you then use to achieve that goal,” he added. “We’re going to work through with the industries, two separate types, both ride-share and taxi, how to best achieve that.” Link to full story in Chicago Tribune.

Photo credit: Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix)/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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