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Chicago cabbies to make aldermanic pitch for fare hike

Chicago cabbies are expected at city hall Tuesday to argue for their first fare increase in seven years, but they may have to wait a bit longer.

The city council’s transportation committee will hold a hearing on a possible taxi fare hike. Ald. Anthony Beale, the panel's chair, is not saying one way or another how he feels.

"We’re going to listen to all the facts and we’re not going to argue this in the press," Beale said Monday. "We’re going to listen to all the facts and come up with a concrete decision on what’s best for the city of Chicago."

Chicago’s taxi fares last increased in 2005, although a one dollar gas surcharge was made permanent recently.

Drivers say their costs keep going up, for example, the amount they have to pay cab owners to lease the cars. Those increases were built into new taxi regulations, sponsored by Beale and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, that took effect earlier this month.

"Even if they give us some kind of fare increase, which we expect that they will, it really doesn’t do anything to help us, because it just catches us up to what we were making before they increased the leases," said Pete Enger, secretary of the group United Taxidrivers Community Council.

Enger said he wants the lease increases to be rolled back for the time-being. His group, the UTCC, is responsible for a couple mini-taxi strikes earlier this month. (City officials and the UTCC disagree about the effectiveness of the work stoppages.)

Emanuel, for his part, has said he doesn’t even want to talk about a cabbie fare hike until the quality of the rides improves.

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