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City To Hold Hearing On Taxi Fare Hike Request — In 6 Or 7 Months

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A taxi stops to let off a passenger on Clark Street downtown. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago cabbies seeking a 22 percent fare hike will get a City Council hearing on their request, but not for six to seven months.

The city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who chairs the City Council Transportation Committee, said Thursday that a hearing on the fare hike request will be held after a set of new taxi regulations is in place in July.

The city granted Chicago cabbies a hearing on their request for a fare hike, even though taxi drivers did not collect the required number of valid signatures on their petition.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

To get a hearing on a fare hike, cabbies must collect the signatures of 10 percent of all active, licensed cab drivers. The city has 11,202 active, licensed taxi drivers and cabbies submitted 1,500 signatures on their request for a 22 percent fare hike, but the city determined 430 signatures were void because the drivers’ licenses were suspended, expired, inactive, revoked or otherwise invalid.

Several cabbies lined up at a taxi stand at Randolph and Michigan avenues Thursday morning said they felt like they’re being pushed around by the city.

“So we need a rate increase for the cabbies. Then, if they increase rates, they increase the lease in a sensible way, I won’t complain,” one taxi driver said. “But the mayor doesn’t seem to be on our said.”

“The gas prices went up, okay? Like air fares, the trains, the buses; all transportations, you know, went up. But not, except for cabs. I don’t know why, it’s not fair,” another cabbie said.

Although the Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the request for a fare hike, Beale wanted to wait until new rules and regulations for the taxi industry go into effect in July, so the hearing won’t be held for six or seven months.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved plans for a permanent $1 fuel surcharge for all cab rides, meaning a passenger would have $3.25 on the meter before the cab moves.

The new taxi regulations also 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.

Drivers will also be restricted to 12-hour workdays – excluding breaks – and taxi companies must keep detailed records of how long their cabbies are on the road every day.

The new rules also authorize the city’s consumer protection department to create rules to require GPS technology in all cabs to help enforce the 12-hour driving limit for cabbies.

The ordinance also provides incentives for cab companies to use vehicles that are fuel-efficient and wheelchair-accessible.

Cabs must also have swipe machines in the back so passengers can pay with credit cards.

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