Cab Drivers Want Steep Fare Hike, Vomit Cleanup Fee

Updated 12/20/11 – 5:20 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s been six years since Chicago cab drivers have had a fare increase and cabbies say it’s about time they had another one.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, a group of 1,500 cab drivers have signed off on a proposal to raise fares by 22 percent, charge credit card users a $1.50 convenience fee and a $75 fee for drunken passengers who vomit in their vehicles.

The cabbies also want to impose a $50 fee for the use of a fraudulent credit card and a $1 fee for each additional passenger. Currently, there is a $1 fee for the first additional passenger and a 50 cent fee for every other extra passenger.

In a bumpy economy, taxi drivers say they need a fare hike now, of at least 22 percent.

Cabbies said they need a significant fare hike because most drivers have to work significant overtime just to make a profit.

“Many drivers claim that they’re putting in 14, 16 hours a day,” cabbie George Kasp said. “I don’t doubt it. I’ve done a little bit of that myself years ago, but … the end is going to come to those kind of crazy hours.”

That’s because Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for a series of reforms for the taxi industry, including a 12-hour limit on cabbies’ shifts.

The last time cab drivers saw a fare increase was in 2005, when fares went up about 17 percent.

“It’s reasonable to ask for a fare hike after six years,” Kasp said.

The typical five-mile cab ride in Chicago would rise from $12.72 to $15.50. In New York City, the same ride runs $16.10 and in Los Angeles, the price is $20.22.

Taxi driver Thaddeus Budzynski has spent the past few months collecting th1 1,500 signatures needed to require a City Council hearing on a rate hike request, but drivers say they’ve been here before.

“We’ve petitioned the city. This is the fourth time. We’ve been declined each time,” Kasp said.

As the city proposes equipping all cabs with credit card swipers, the petition also asks for a $1.50 surcharge for the lag time it takes drivers to receive their cash payouts.

Budzynski said he can understand how a rider might enjoy the convenience of using a credit card, “but the riders have to understand that we need cash to put gasoline in our cabs so that we can keep our business going.”

Cabbies would also like a $75 cleaning fee for those who have overindulged and gotten sick in their cabs.

“If they don’t stick their head out the window, vomiting outside, they’re vomiting inside,” Budzynski said. “I had a lady stick her head out of the window and they vomited on my cab, on the side of the cab, and who had to clean it up? I did.”

Kasp said, “I don’t need to say much about when somebody vomits in a cab. It’s pretty bad.”

“Overall, the economy is making it rough for everybody,” said Kathy Cotney, of Griffith, Ind., who was visiting downtown Chicago on Tuesday.

But visiting consumers, like the Cotneys, said now just isn’t the time to be paying more for a cab ride.

“It’s already really expensive to come into Chicago and, when you add parking and taxis on top of it, it makes it hard for somebody to come downtown,” Cotney said.

But Kasp said a fare increase is “the only reasonable thing to do.”

City officials said the mayor’s proposals to encourage more fuel-efficient cars and standardizing the vehicle lease system for taxi drivers will put more money in drivers’ pockets.

The city has 60 days to conduct a hearing into the cabbies’ request for a fare hike, but the City Council isn’t forced to vote on it. Regardless, fare hikes are unlikely until the mayor’s proposed reforms are in effect.

Last week, the mayor 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.

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.

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.

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

  • Jim Hamilton

    This is exactly what Rahm wants he wants Chicago to be unaffordable so only the really wealthy will be there, meanwhile he is disbursing the sludge out into the burbs

    • Justin Case

      The “rich” won’t be there either, at least not the smart ones. Then he can tax the remaining jungle jumpers for his weekly allowance

    • Hopeful

      I’m ok with this.

      • Marc M

        Of course you are….

    • AtlasObjectivist

      So true. The question is, how many cities have to sacrificed before the people start voting for leaders, not hand outs?

  • Gary

    With all of the expensive cab upgrades Rahm is calling for, the cab owners will have to raise rates just to survive!

    • Jim Hamilton

      It’s all part of the drive people out of Chicago so we can have it to ourselves ploy started by Daley and is being followed up by Rahm and his band of merry yes men

  • Robert Kirkwood

    Let them raise fares. But put more regulations on them. They should be fined more for traffic violations which would include: blocking traffic to pick up a fare, cutting over multiple lanes to pick up a fare, making U-turns to pick up fares, speeding, reckless driving, etc, etc. Fines for professional drivers (people making money driving people or goods) should be double what they are for everybody else.

    Unfortunately, the city can make as many rules as they want, but if they aren’t enforced it doesn’t matter one bit. Hire more police or use those useless traffic aides to write moving violation tickets. That will increase revenue and we won’t have to hire full fledged, union police officers to write tickets.

  • Ivory Soap please

    I would agree to pay an additional 50% as long as these people agree to shower regularly.

    • Stinky

      No deal

  • chicago's own

    well drivers wants 22% increase for their services driving around for 12 hrs looking for passengers.first of all the majority of cabs are dirty and smells.i don’t take or ride cabs. always take a limos from and to airports.better service ,clean,and safer.twice took a cab to airport,both cabs ended getting a flat tires at kennedy got stuck and missed my flight,because both cabs did not have a spare tire on their trunks.there goes the tourism visiting looks like chicago is getting expensive,expensive to get around.

    • Chicago's worst

      A limo! I just roll upstairs to my helicopter, fly to the airport and hop on my G6

  • against whiners

    all you cab drivers that are not happy driving around chicago,because your not making enough profits and comparing yourselfs to your counter part from new york and los angeles.why not move to ny or la.whine,whine.

    • Scott Hayden

      What a stupid comment. Do you just roll over and accept something or move elsewhere when you want something changed?

  • Robert Nagel

    It might have been informative if the reporter had given us an idea of what a cab driver actually makes in Chicago.

    • Sara

      Best point made so far.

  • Brian

    Laugh out loud at Chicago

  • Sean

    Why do they have to appeal to city council for the rate hike? They’re a private business, competition and the free market should dictate the price. Where are we Beijing? I know that people will say if they could raise prices whenever they want then cab fare would be a $1000 a mile or some such nonsense. People will only ride a cab if they can afford it and if they raise the prices too much then they lose business, simple capitalism. It works every time it’s tried unfortunately we haven’t tried it in over 70 years.

    • Scott

      unfortunately, you are correct. This is nothing but government running amok, getting their noses into things they have no business getting into. Let the market determine the rates and let the market determine who should remain in business and who should wither away.

    • Traveler

      You’ve obviously never traveled. The City sets the rate because otherwise cabbies rip people off. Period. If you don’t think that’s true, then you’ve never traveled somewhere where cabs aren’t regulated. Elderly people get ripped off, tourists get ripped off, people too small to fight a cab driver get ripped off, shy people get ripped off. You assume everyone is just like you, or you’re just an arrogant prick who doesn’t care that people get ripped off, but the rule and order of law is exactly what government is for, and regulating taxi prices is, unfortunately, part of that.

  • TheRealKingMax

    I want to see a cabbie extract a $75 cleanup fee from a puking drunk….

  • glenp

    my demented sister wants to leave Chicago because it’s too expensive to live there and move to Boston. Of course you realize she’s a leftist idiot and loves to pay taxes.
    She’s a math genius that went to MIT but seems she can’t add 2+2

  • DigitalBob

    Chicago was founded by disaffected New Yorkers who said, “we love the crime and high taxes in New York but it’s just not cold enough”.

  • Irish67

    Cabbies should have to pass an English literacy test and provide proof of citizenship to drive a cab.

  • BigBoa

    A “vomit” fee? Now of course, cab drivers should make just as much as, say, cardiologists. And busboys should make as much as cab drivers. But if the busboys are smart, they’ll not only charge a “vomit” fee, they’ll ALSO request a “floor mess” fee for having to clean up after say for example, babies that leave a major mess, or even adult customers that leave their table trashed. Perhaps they should also charge for cleaning the table. Oh, you say that’s part of the job?

    AH HAHAHA!!! How utterly stupid….

  • BlownfuelCoupe

    A Turd Fee would get much more Monetary Sympatico.

  • John

    At this point I have to ask: Why is the government in charge of who can charge what price for their services? Did the Soviet Union suddenly re-appear?

    $21 to go five miles in LA? And you think the governmenjt is somehow making this *better*?

    Two words: Free. Market.

  • bdm

    I hope they realize that with a $1.5 charge I will deduct $2 from any possible tip.

    • Scott

      that’s telling them sparky. Time is money and banks charge extra for credit card merchant accounts. Go ahead and punish the driver if that is what you think he deserves.

  • Buster Brown

    No tip for you, Palooka. In addition I will pour vomit concentrate on the floorboard as I exit the cab. If you can’t see it there ain’t no way to charge.

    • artemis133

      “Vomit concentrate”? Where, pray tell, can one buy that item?

  • George Johnson

    They’re just going to put themselves out of business.
    I don’t understand the credit card fraud fee. That’s just money from the bank. They’re not collecting it from the criminal that used the card. So they’re just causing bank fees to go up even more for the rest of you.
    If you can’t make a living driving a cab, um, have you thought about doing something else you CAN make a (legal) living at??
    This is just like “gimmie gimmie gimmie!!” Nowhere does our Constitution/BOR say you MUST make a living driving a cab. If it’s a failed business model, then move on….

  • Michelle Obama

    The highly regulated taxi industry in big cities is a classic example of what’s wrong with government regulation: poor service, sub-standard drivers, and higher costs. I live in a suburban area with no taxi regulations and guess what? A small taxi company opened up that has better service, clean and comfortable cars, and drivers who actually speak perfect English and don’t get lost… all for less than the big companies based in the city charge. Want to actually improve taxis in America? Deregulate and let the free market take over!

  • AtlasObjectivist

    Fee to clean up vomit? Sure, but how about having the cab (and driver) clean to begin with. Chicago has the most disgusting cabs in the country.

  • mon zoid

    I say make the drunks pay 75 bucks AND clean up the vomit.

  • jgdp

    $50 to clean up a customer’s barf,what is the charge if they take a dump?

  • ABO 2012

    Vomit clean-up fee?

    Perhaps they should clean it up first, before demanding a fee…

  • stoptouchingthatmabel

    It’s funny but I too have implemented a vomit cleanup fee as well as bad breath and gaseous emissions fees. It’s tough out here so please take a bus if you stink.

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