Cab drivers vent frustration, ask for fare increase

July 31, 2012

Quinn Ford

(Flickr/Francesco Minciotti)
Chicago cab drivers made their case for a fare increase at City Hall on Tuesday.

Chicago cab drivers made their case for a fare hike at a public hearing on Tuesday at city hall.

Chicago's cab fare hasn't gone up since 2005, and cab drivers say a new ordinance that took effect in July isn't helping them.

Drivers told the city's Committee on Transportation and the Public Way that the new ordinance increases the cost of leasing a cab and limits the number of hours drivers can work, without offering a fare increase to offset the added expense. But city officials counter that the ordinance made the $1 fuel surcharge permanent.

"We've been waiting for seven years," said driver Finn Ebelechukwu. "I'm beginning to feel like I'm a slave, like I'm working for nothing."

Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance criticized Chicago’s new taxicab ordinance.

"I must say to you frankly, with all due respect, the idea that leases have gone up when the fares have not have made the regulatory body of this city truly, you know, a laughingstock in the rest of the country," Desai said.

Desai pointed to New York City, which just raised cab fares 17 percent. Desai said that raise will go to drivers and help them earn a living wage.

Ald. Anthony Beale chairs the committee that heard testimony from cab drivers and advocates.

"We heard some key information that was very compelling, so we're going to take all of that, go back, look at their testimony, look at the data, look at what's best, and then make a decision," Beale said. He wouldn't say whether a fare increase would happen anytime soon.