Chicago aldermen seek dollar surcharge on cab rides

November 18, 2010

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Supporters say the fee could raise $70 million for the city.

A pair of powerful Chicago aldermen want to add a one dollar surcharge to taxi rides in the city. Finance Committee Chair Ed Burke, 14th, and Budget Committee Chair Carrie Austin say the cash-strapped city could get $70 million from the taxi surcharge.

"These are mainly used by visitors to Chicago, business people who're on expense accounts and it isn't a big amount," Burke said. "A $1 surcharge isn't going to hurt anybody, in my opinion."

A couple years ago, taxi drivers won the right to charge a gasoline surcharge of up to a dollar, but they get to keep that money.

George Lutfallah is with the Chicago Dispatcher, a publication for taxi drivers. He worries that another dollar surcharge could discourage people from taking cabs for shorter trips.

Asked about that concern, Alderman Burke said, "good."

"That'll be good for people's exercise," he said. "They'll get more exercise walking."

Burke says the proposed ordinance will now be sent to the FInance Committee for a hearing.