UPDATED 10/25/11 6:59 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Powerful City Council Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th) is again suggesting a cab fare surcharge to help boost city revenues.
Burke is proposing a $1 surcharge on cab rides, which he says would generate $70 million per year for the city.
The taxi overhaul proposal also includes improving safety standards, and making the city’s fleet of cabs greener.
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Currently, the base taxi fare in Chicago is $2.25, plus $1 for the first additional passenger, and a fuel surcharge of $1.
City officials also say a greater overhaul of the regulations for taxi industry is mandated.
City Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosemary Krimbel says the way the system works now, cab drivers have a financial incentive to drive recklessly.
Krimbel said at a budget hearing that meters click faster when a driver is moving than when standing still, so it is more profitable for a driver to change lanes frequently and drive fast, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The newspaper reports Krimbel is looking at several options for changing the fare system, including the surcharge suggested by Burke, and restructuring the meter rate.
Under the proposal last year, cabbies — who already complain about being strangled by city regulations — would be required to collect the $1 surcharge and “remit” the money to the city’s Department of Revenue. They would be required to keep “accurate and complete books and records” on surcharge collections. Those books would be “subject to inspection” by the city.
Last year’s proposal ultimately fizzled.
But the budget last year was precariously balanced with parking meter reserves and other one-shot revenues. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first budget, by contrast, is loaded with cuts that include the closure of three police stations, the reduction of library hours, and cuts to 510 middle or senior managers, as well as hikes in fines and fees.
Among big cities, Chicago has one of the lowest cab fares.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.