The end of Uber in Chicago? Ordinance would require fingerprinting of rideshare drivers and limit surge pricing

The end of Uber in Chicago? Ordinance would require fingerprinting of rideshare drivers and limit surge pricing

The ordinance was pushed through committee by taxi industry ally Alderman Anthony Beale, 9th Ward.

A proposed crackdown on ridesharing passed out of a Chicago City Council committee Aug. 30, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The ordinance would seek to cut back on “surge pricing” a practice by ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, in which fares go up when demand rises. The proposal would also require drivers to be fingerprinted and photographed.

Alderman Anthony Beale, 9th Ward, longtime ridesharing opponent and chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Public Way, pushed the ordinance through committee, according to the Sun-Times. The move came despite the fact a surge-pricing study previously commissioned by the Transportation Committee has not yet concluded.

This is not the first time Beale has gone after ridesharing. In June 2016, Beale and other aldermen proposed a slew of similar regulations, which included city-overseen fingerprinting of drivers and vehicle checks and mandating that drivers obtain chauffeur’s licenses. Uber and Lyft protested the regulations and warned that if implemented, the rules would cause the ridesharing giants to leave Chicago.

In the end, after outcry from drivers and the public, the Chicago City Council passed a watered-down ordinance that required drivers to obtain special chauffeur’s licenses and post signs informing riders they can relay complaints to 311, and prohibited ridesharing drivers from operating cars older than 6 years, unless they submit their vehicles for semiannual testing.

However, with this new proposal, Beale has dismissed the possibility that Uber and Lyft might leave the city, even daring Uber and Lyft to “walk away from billions of dollars,” the Sun-Times reported.

Beale cited as a reason for fast-tracking the ordinance an incident in August when Chicago L train and bus service was disrupted and resulted in ridesharing surge pricing, according to the Sun-Times.

The proposed ordinance would cap surge pricing at 150 percent above the average regular fare and require ridesharing drivers to provide photographs, submit to fingerprinting, and pay a processing fee. Uber and Lyft have claimed that such a move could have a disproportionate effect on minority drivers, according to the Sun-Times.

Beale has supported various restrictions on ridesharing, including extra taxes, training requirements for drivers, and even an outright, citywide ban. Beale has even joined Alderman Ed Burke, 14th Ward, in attempting to severely restrict self-driving cars, a key project of Uber and other ridesharing companies.

But Beale’s hostility to ridesharing may have something to do with his friendly relationship with the taxi industry. Beale has received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from pro-taxi groups such as the Illinois Transportation Trade Association Political Action Committee.

And with ridesharing services impinging on the business of traditional taxi companies, Beale’s proposed crackdown should not surprise anyone.

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