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Rideshare Companies Seek To Defend Their Reputation

dellimore250 Craig Dellimore
Craig Dellimore, political editor for WBBM, joined the station in 1983...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Ridesharing companies – and their drivers and customers – have urged aldermen to allow the services to continue in Chicago, without severe restrictions sought by the taxi industry.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports people who want to use a rideshare service like UberX, Lyft, or Sidecar can hire a privately-owned car by using their smartphones to find a driver willing to take them to their destination.

Rideshare companies attended a License and Consumer Protection Committee meeting on Thursday, and defended themselves against allegations from the cab industry that they don’t have proper insurance, and put customers in danger because they don’t check drivers for criminal records.

Lyft’s Candice Taylor, manager of government relations, said the company performs background checks on all its drivers and has insurance. She said the service is good for drivers and customers alike.

“We give people economic opportunities to use their cars to give rides to others. We prevent drunk driving by giving a safe ride home at the end of the night,” she said.

UberX sets variable prices for different times, but rival firm Sidecar’s attorney, Elizabeth Stevens, said it does not.

“We allow our drivers to set their own price, and … passengers are able to see a list of those drivers,” she said.

The companies currently operate with no oversight from the city, other than driving laws that apply to all motorists.

The Emanuel administration has proposed new regulations for ridesharing companies, but cabbies have said they are not strict enough. Under the proposed rules, rideshare services would be required to have insurance, pay a $25,000-a-year fee, and pay a $3.50-per-day-per-vehicle ground transportation tax.

Cab companies argue those fees are insignificant compared to those imposed on the taxi industry, noting the medallion required for a licensed taxi costs about $350,000.

While the city sets the fares taxis are allowed to charge their customers, the mayor’s proposed regulations for ride-sharing services would allow drivers and passengers to negotiate prices based on time and distance. Ride-sharing companies also would be allowed to charge customers much higher prices based on demand, such as when there is bad weather.

Much stricter ridesharing regulations have been proposed at the state level in Springfield.

In addition, some cab drivers and companies have filed a federal lawsuit against the city, seeking to impose the same regulations the taxi industry already faces on rideshare companies.