Mayor Emanuel Calls For New, Tighter Regulations On Taxis

UPDATED 12/12/11 5:51 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday announced plans for a set of reforms to the taxi industry that will improve vehicles and regulate cab drivers.

The mayor announced the reforms with Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosemary Krimbel. He said the changes are necessary to bring the city’s taxi industry into the 21st century with vehicle regulations and driver oversight.

As CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports, the reforms, which touch all aspects of the industry, were largely prompted by a CBS 2 investigation of dangerous drivers.

“Whether it’s making sure the fleet is more fuel-efficient, making sure that a passenger can swipe their own credit card, making sure that taxicabs have a GPS system so you know where the location is and where the closest taxi is, as well as the training, the safety of the drivers – that whole experience needs to be revamped,” Emanuel said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Reforms to modernize the taxi industry are long overdue, Emanuel said.

“As you know, we worked very hard at modernizing McCormick Place, and you cannot be a leader in the convention industry and have a taxi fleet, drivers and the experience be held back … the last change was done in ’97, and the first real top-to-bottom comprehensive reform was done under Harold Washington,” Emanuel said.

The reforms include a limit on the age of vehicles that can be on the roads, by lowering the maximum number of miles on a newly-converted taxi to 75,000 from 150,000.

Also, on-the-road training will be required before cab drivers are licensed and driving records will be reviewed more than once a year.

Krimbel said reforms would also include “regular interfacing … with the Secretary of State’s traffic violation database, as well as a new partnership with the Chicago Department of Police, so that we will have access in real time to moving violations and traffic accidents that involve taxi cabs.”

That information will be put on a watch list of cab drivers to make sure they drive safely on a consistent basis. Dangerous drivers will be removed from the street right away instead of being subject only to annual reviews. Drivers with three or more moving violations in a 12-month period will not have their license renewed.

The reforms were spurred, in part, by a CBS 2 investigation of dangerous cab drivers.

“Both higher quality experience for the customer, higher standards for the cars and higher safety is the goal,” Emanuel said. “That hasn’t been the case to date. And you can see it many times by some of the reporting.”

One of the worst offenders found by a CBS 2 investigation was Simon Ohiri, who piled up 116 moving violations since 1989 and was sued five times by pedestrians he allegedly hit.

“I’m trying my best. I’m a cab driver and I’m on the street almost 15 hours every day,” Ohiri said earlier this year.

Another reform will be to limit cabbies from driving more than 12 hours a day. The city recently refused to renew Ohiri’s license, which he declined to comment about Monday.

The city also plans to impose a tiered lease system, with discounts on medallion fees for companies that buy fuel-efficient and wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Also planned is a standardized lease system that will restrict hidden charges that companies are incorporating into taxi leases, so as to protect drivers from illegal overcharges, according to the mayor’s office.

In further addition, a new category of licenses will be issued for jitney cars, or unlicensed cabs without meters. The Mayor’s office says this will improve service in areas that are not well served by traditional cabs.

Credit card swipe machines and GPS technology will also be mandatory for cabs, according to the Mayor’s office.

Taxi drivers, companies and independent owner-operators were involved in crafting the legislation, according to the Mayor’s office.

“We’re doing this in partnership with the industry. There will be parts they won’t like, there will be parts they’ll be very excited about,” Emanuel said.

Beale plans to introduce the ordinance at the City Council meeting Wednesday.

Complaints about insufficient regulation on the taxi industry are nothing new. In April of last year, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection made headlines for pulling 222 cabs out of service after discovering that they were all salvaged or rebuilt vehicles – which is not permitted for taxis.

The paperwork filed with the city by the taxi management firms had been altered or “washed” to conceal the fact that they were salvaged or rebuilt, then-Commissioner Norma Reyes said at the time.

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  • Dave

    As long as nobody has to fork out any money for his new regulations, fine. But in true Democrat fasion, the taxi drivers, who can barely make a living as it is, will have to find money somewhere to comply!

  • Larry Horse's Arse Horse's Arse

    The cab business in the City is a big scam. It’s $350 up front to lease a cab for a week. I said up front. That’s $1,500 a month to lease a cab. With the price of gas and the economic situation in general, it’s no mystery as to why there are far less cabs on the street than there were 10 years ago.

    The owners make out like bandits. The cab drivers? They struggle. It’s a horrible way to make a living. And I’ve said nothing about driving in this city. Doing that for just an hour is enough to make you insane.

  • Wolf

    More costs and government regulations…amazing the excessive coercion and over reach of these corrupt public sector operations…and this from a illegitimate Mayor…

  • Denise Gilbert

    The cab drivers are scammers too. I cannot tell you the countless times I have had to take a cab from the city to the suburbs. Cab drivers just make up as they go along – charging you at least time and a half or double outside of the city limits. This needs to be regulated. Half of them think you do not know where you are going either so they take the round about way unless you say something. I can most certainly say at least half (probably more) of the corporate employees in Chicago live in the suburbs. I like many of Mayor Emanual’s changes – to me he is an asset to the city. Thanks!

    • Jim Hamilton

      That’s because you don’t live in the city easy for you to say isn’t? Rahm is making it so hard for people in the Cesspool that they are starting to migrate out into the suburbs think about it the cesspool runeth over!

    • Chicago Cabbie

      The fares from the city to the suburbs IS time and a half once you cross the city limits ! This is according to City of Chicago rules. I’m a Chicago taxi driver. While reckless driving by taxi drivers is unacceptable, my concern is that the needs & concerns of taxi drivers will be ignored in all the concern surrounding some tragic accidents this year.

      Cab drivers have not had a fare increase in 6 years, but the cost of living has gone up continuously! Cabbies have NO pension, NO paid sick days, NO paid vacation, NO medical coverage. The payment system for cabbies is set up so it is possible for a cabbie to work 12 hours & actually LOSE money or make a dismal $20, $40, $60. There is NO guaranteed salary or wage ! Credit card acceptance which was mandated by the city causes the drivers to lose an additional 5 to 10 % of fares to credit card fees (as if the fares weren’t low enough already).

      Cabbies have been asking for & doing what’s necessary legally to get a fare increase for 4 or 5 years, but have been ignored. To improve the quality of service, the city ought to consider the role decent conditions & adequate pay have. Well paid, respected, fairly treated workers provide safer, higher quality service than harried, exploited, ignored ones.

      For more on the poor conditions Chicago cabbies face, go to this article in the Chicago Dispatcher Newspaper by veteran Chicago cab driver Rick Soderquist.

  • luke

    That Jim guy comments on every story but doesn’t seem to have much of actual value to say.

    I think the industry could benefit from an upgrade in technology and standardization of cabs. Having taken cabs in several other cities throughout the US, our fleet in Chicago is way behind the times. Just try to pay with a credit card and check out the hassle you get from about 75% of the drivers. Some also drive like idiots and reporting them is an extremely inefficient process.

    • Jim hamilton

      If you don’t like the cab service don’t use it let supply and demand work it out we don’t need more government intervention driving up the cost of living. There are other options out there take a bus, rent a car, buy a car you do not have to take a cab.

      How about walk your lazy azz through the cesspool I have many of times as a kid one more thing pray you don’t get robbed, shot or mugged because Illinois is protecting you

      • luke

        Yeah I guess you’re right sense you put it like that Ijust wasn’t seeing the whole picture. But how did you know I’m lazy do you know my wife?

      • Sean

        Wow supply and demand, other options oh thanks Jim I never thought of that

    • Chicago Cabbie

      hey luke

      cabbies can barely make a living as it is. Using a credit card costs them an additional 5 to 10 % !! of the already low fares to credit card fees …you didnt know that did you luke? thats because the city doesnt tell the public…Have you ever heard of merchants losing 5 to 10 % to credit card fees? No. Most merchants lose 2 to 3.5 %…but Chgo cabbies lose 5% and in the case of credit cards paid with a smart phone at Flash taxi, they lose 10 %…thats’ THEFT ! and the city just lets it happen.

      And credit cards also cost cabbies time when they have to stand in a long line at the end of the day to cash those credit cards. Like an hour !

      Think about that the next time you insist on paying with a credit card

      And some of you passengers behave like idiots…getting drunk and obnoxious, falling asleep in the cab and not being able to wake up when we get you to your destination, vomiting in the cab, not having any form of payment or a declined credit card after we’ve already gotten you to your door and more…check out this article on the poor conditions cabbies face …educate yourself

  • Sean

    These Regulations need to apply to Suburb Cabs as well. I was in an Express Cab in Berwyn and I thought the cab was going to fall apart. The driver said it had over 250,000 miles on it.

  • Stinky cabs

    They should also mandate that cab drivers shower.

  • Larry Horse's Arse Horse's Arse

    Trying to report bad cab drivers is an overly burdensome process. You have to go to the web site, fill out a report and then Consumer Services mails you more forms to complete. It’s not worth the hassle unless the problem is serious.

    There are set cab fares for fares out to the burbs, I believe.

    Drivers don’t like people paying with plastic because they don’t get the cash until they go in at the end of a shift. They also don’t like plastic because I believe there’s a fee that comes out of the driver’s fares for them.

    Driving a cab is just an insane type of work. Everyone hates you. You make no money. And it’s dangerous. This is why you hardly ever see American born drivers.

  • fro better taxis and drivers

    the city should start and stopping cabs to make sure they carry a spare tire in their trunks.i was late twice on my way to o’hare and twice different cabs has no spare on their trunks,because of flat tire on the kennedy express cab drivers are not losing money,remember they get tips.

    • Jim hamilton

      Nope sorry no spare no tip ROFL

  • Monica N

    My husband is a taxi driver and a Great one at that with a clean record for the past 6 years. Mr. Rahm Emanuel let the taxi cab drivers create some type of union to protect their rights (which they have NONE oF)…One example would be the many times my husband has had a customer literally yell at him because they wanted him to drive faster or in a wreckless manner because they were in a “hurry” in which he refused and receives verbal assualts from them because he has no right to talk back to a customer and if he talks back to a customer or the Crazy customer complains to consumer services that he did not “drive” to their liking or followed their directions…he Automatically can be fined $800 from consumer serviceswithout an “Hearing” because the Customer is Always Right.
    Mr. Rahm Emanuel please stregnthen Taxi Driver’s Rightsand maybe do something to stop leasing abuses towards them and maybe help them out so that they could actually maybe afford to own their own medallion because the system as we speak is soo monopolized it isn’t funny.

  • Jim Hamilton


  • Memon

    Every one complaining and accusing Cab Drivers but no one even thinks that how the customers treat the drivers. They abuse, throw money on the face of drivers even snuf drugs in the cab. PLUS during the rush hours 3 or 4 big fat wearing 3 pcs. suits having luggages going to Airports. They are individual sharing the fare but pay to the drivers one meter charges. There is share ride is legal from airport bringing people from airports to the city, why Mr. Mayor try to use his head and amend this law for suspecious kind of criminal minded Chicago people to pay to the driver share ride charges and donot ripp of being white race. Some people hire the cab going North side and pick up their friends on their ways and drop them first at their homes free and pay to the drivers one fare. As far as I understand, Cab fare System based on from one point to another, so as and when first friend going to get off, driver would have to stop the meter, collect the fare from Mr. Genuis and restart the meter for another stop before the final destination, pay to the driver what ever fare meter shows after restarting the meter. We all know that Cab Fare is not like Bus Fare, why this cruel people making their own rules and ripp off the drivers.

    If drivers refuse, they complaint to the City vehicle Department and those people working in hearing department, donot bring the complainants at the time of hearing but call them on phone, drivers do not know, who is talking from the other end and make the drivers guilty and force them to pay fine for the crime drivers did not do. Is this is your justice to terrerise the common hard working drivers ?

    Mr. Mayor, if you have little fear of God Almighty in your heart, please consider serious enquiries in all these problems with yours City people and bring some kind new legislation to protect Cab Drivers from those irresponsible and dishonest people and put the smile on their faces, which would, no doubt, would be a blessing for you and your family as well.

    Donot forget, Drivers are human beings having their parents, wives and children and they work hard to bring food on the table. Unfortunately these people who ripps up hard working cab drivers proving that Chicago is not a friendly City but as always been a Gangster City.

  • Chicago Cabbie

    Cab drivers have not had a fare increase in 6 years, but the cost of living has gone up continuously ! Cabbies have NO pension, NO paid sick days, NO paid vacation, NO medical coverage when not driving. The payment system for cabbies is set up in such a way that it is possible for a cabbie to work 12 hours and actually LOSE money or make a dismal $20, $40, $60. There is NO guaranteed salary or wage ! Credit card acceptance which was mandated by the city causes the drivers to lose an additional 5 to 10 % of fares to credit card fees (as if the fares weren’t low enough already). 
    Cabbies have been asking for and doing what’s necessary legally to get a fare increase for 4 or 5 years, but have been ignored. To improve the quality of service, the city ought to consider the role decent conditions and adequate pay have. Well paid, respected, fairly treated workers provide safer, higher quality service than harried, exploited, ignored ones. 
    Cab drivers deserve a place at the table in discussions on changes that effect their lives and livelihoods. I question whether cabbies were included in discussions of reforms made by the city and dutifully repeated by the media….learn about the poor conditions Chicago Taxi Drivers face here, at this article from the Chicago Dispatcher Newspaper, the Chicago taxi industry newspaper..

  • Memon

    Cab business is like a freelanse individual business on their own choices. Drivers are not an employees of any Cab Companies but are responsible for their own consequeces. Who they are asking for Medical and Security Blankets ? If Cab Drivers needs more protection, they would have to buy their own seperate insurance and provide their own securities. As a matter of fact no job is secured any more. Do you think City adopt the individual Drivers and take responsibility of their protection ? Think about that.

    • jim Hamilton


      Then the city should have no say in how they run that business either don’t you think

      • memon

        Mr. Jim Hamilton, Much obliged for yours counter response. Every one knows that like other things, driving cabs is a previledge and Mr. Mayor is the elected Head of City of Chicago. His job is to be sure that Cab Business runs smoothly according to the Rules and Regulations of City. No doubt, The Cab Drivers are free lance Contractors, it does not mean, City has nothing to do with drivers, or drivers can make their own rules and abuse women and seniors.

        May be you know some Drivers carrying 2 meters in their cabs. One certified by City, they use during regular days but another speedy meter they use during the convesions. Lots of people come from out of town and out of USA and get hurts. Who is responsible for those kind of dishonest drivers ?

        As a human being I request you please to think about every thing and send your own message to Mr. Mayor and join hands with him to accomplish his goal in the interest of people. Ok.

  • Shuma

    TO Memon: Come on guys, we live in USA, You got your rights to ask for PRINTED meter receipt from any cab and take it to consumer service office at Ogden and Western, if the meter is illegal than cab drivers licence will be suspended indefinetely!!!

  • Cab Drivers Want Steep Fare Hike, Vomit Cleanup Fee « CBS Chicago

    […] Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for new, tighter regulations on taxis. The reforms, which touch all aspects of the industry, were largely prompted by a CBS 2 investigation of dangerous drivers. […]

  • City, Cabbies Clashing On Plans For Taxi Reform Without Fare Hikes « CBS Chicago

    […] Krimble and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the planned changes to the taxi industry last week. […]

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