CHICAGO - The taxi business in Chicago is lobbying the Illinois General Assembly to clamp down on competition from ride-sharing startup companies like Uber and Lyft - and they're betting the Illinois Senate will deliver for them on Wednesday.
The legislative crusade in Springfield is shaping up to be a classic David versus Goliath battle, with the upstart ride-share business facing off against the Goliath taxi monopoly. The weapon of choice for the cab companies: ride-share regulation imposed by the Illinois legislature.
"The legislaton proposed in Springfield is the worse ridesharing program we've seen yet among the 100 cities where Uber is currently in business - it's vicious," Andrew MacDonald, the company's general manager, told Illinois Review Tuesday.
"Not only does HB 4075 overrule Chicago's home rule ordinance, it forces unfunded mandates on the city and state's budgets to monitor and enforce the proposed law, something that will cost taxpayers and consumers in excess of $1.3 million annually," MacDonald said.
The ride-sharing industry in Chicago was in the midst of negotiating an agreeable ordinance with the city of Chicago when the taxi industry bailed out and took its clout to the state level, where it has successfully moved the legislation through the Ilinois House.
"The city has a progressive proposal that works fine for Chicago, and is scheduled to pass May 28th," MacDonald explained. "Up until now, cities have previously determined how they will run services like this."
Ride-share drivers own the cars they use working for UberX, which requires all vehicles have four doors, be 2004 or later model, and be maintained in top-tier condition.
Uber also carries higher insurance coverage than the Chicago taxies. However, HB 4075 imposes additional coverage requirements on ride-share that will drive costs to consumers up without adding additional protection for the riders.
MacDonald contends this will force thousands of ride-share drivers off the road for administrative procedures that don't add any additional safety measure. The result will be higher costs to customers and thousands of drivers out of a job for extended periods of time.
In addition, HB 4075 limits ride-share drivers to 18 hours every two weeks, after which they would be required to have a chauffeurs' license. An additional burden for those part-timer drivers that want to add in extra driving hours when big conventions are in town.
Indeed, Chicago's ridesharing market is exploding as clients are finding they pay 25 percent less than what "medallion industry" cab fares cost. Add to that the ability to schedule rides, pay online, and travel in style, and it is not surprising that Chicagoans are preferring ride-share over traditional cabs.
"This is about ride-sharing breaking up the taxi monopoly in Chicago," MacDonald said. "But it's really more about supply and demand."
The vote in the Illinois Senate is expected Wednesday.