Ridesharing ordinance passes City Council

“Don’t get in a car with strangers.” While this collective guidance may seem like common sense, ridesharing companies were approved by the City Council on May 28 as being entirely legal in the city of Chicago. Ridesharing companies such as UberX, Sidecar and Lyft offer the same services as traditional taxicab companies, but at decreased prices and in the driver’s personal vehicle. Customers of these companies are thrilled, but City Council’s Transportation Committee as well as the taxicab companies of Chicago are not as pleased.

Companies like Lyft no longer have to worry about the legality of ridesharing in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Lyft.
Companies like Lyft no longer have to worry about the legality of ridesharing in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Lyft.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ridesharing ordinance has significantly fewer restrictions than taxicab companies had hoped. The main restrictions only require vehicle inspections, background checks on drivers, limited training and limits on picking up customers from high- traffic locations such as O’Hare, Midway or McCormick Place. Ridesharing drivers will not be required to buy the enormously expensive taxi medallion required by official taxicabs.

Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Ald. Anthony Beale, is vocal about his aversion toward the recent ordinance. He argues that with this ordinance, the $360,000 taxi medallions will be rendered “useless”.

Although Emanuel’s ordinance did not place any restrictions on cab fares or the “surge pricing” that occurs on dramatically busier days for cabs such as New Year’s Eve, most rideshare customers are happy they will still be able to use ridesharing services for their transportation needs.

“I never use cabs, but when I have to I’ll use UberX. It’s way cheaper, so I don’t really see the point in using a regular taxi,” Kyle Trick, a DePaul freshman, said.

Some Chicago residents may find themselves actually trying ridesharing services with the comfort that those drivers too are now required to pass vehicle inspections and background checks. Maria Giannetos, another
DePaul freshman, was a concerned rider at first. “I think it can be kind of scary because I’m used to taking an actual taxi. When it isn’t the traditional yellow cab I don’t really trust that it’s safe,” she said.

When informed that with the new ordinance, rideshare drivers would have to pass most of the inspections required by traditional cab drivers, her opinion drastically changed.

“What I was most worried about is that they didn’t have to do a background check or anything,” Giannetos said. “I honestly feel much more willing to try it knowing they have all these checks in order.”

With the new regulations officially passed, only time will tell how Emanuel’s newest ordinance will affect the taxicab industry. For now, consumers can be assured that they are still free to call a pink mustached car to their front door with a simple tap on their smartphone’s screen.