Just a little over two weeks after ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft pulled out of the Austin, TX market over a City Council ordnance upheld by voters, Uber and Lyft are threatening to leave Chicago over a proposal that would have Uber and Lyft drivers fingerprinted, and background checked.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, is proposing an ordinance that “would require Uber and Lyft drivers to get restricted chauffeur’s licenses after a one-day class, be fingerprinted by a city-approved vendor and get their vehicles inspected by City Hall. And, “a minimum of 5 percent of the total fleet of both companies would have to be accessible to customers with disabilities. No ride-hailing vehicle could remain on the streets that is more than 6 years old.”
These proposed regulations don’t sit well with Lyft, whose vice president of government relations, Joseph Okpaku, said it’s a “distinct possibility” that the company would pull out of Chicago.
From the Chicago Sun-Times, “Okpaku argued that Lyft drivers — 80 percent of who drive less than 15 hours-a-week — would not be willing to jump through the regulatory hoops to get a restricted chauffeurs license. That includes paying a $115 fee, passing a one-day course and undergoing a fingerprint-based background check.”
“We cannot operate under a regulatory framework like this. If you can’t get part-time, casual drivers on board, the model fails . . . If you shut off the critical mass of drivers, the whole system starts to crumble,” Okpaku said.
Uber’s Chicago general manager, Marco McCottry echoed the stand to the Chicago Sun-Times. “If this ordinance were to pass, ride-sharing as we know it would no longer exist in Chicago.”
This sounds like it’s gonna get even more messy – which seems like it’s the norm for Chicago politics. One more interesting fact pointed out in the article by the Chicago Sun-Times: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose brother is an Uber investor, is lobbying hard to kill Beale’s licensing ordinance.”
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