Today’s Headlines

  • Alleged Bagman in Redflex Bribery Scandal Scheduled to Plead Guilty Today (Tribune)
  • Plan to Boost Income for Cabbies Without Raising Fares Passes in Committee (Sun-Times)
  • Reilly Proposes Crackdown on Valet Parking in Tow Zones (Sun-Times)
  • Man Fleeing Police Crashes Car into CTA Bus & 5 Parked Cars in Brighton Park (Tribune)
  • Yet Another “Crash-and-Grab” Burglary, This Time on the Mag Mile (Tribune)
  • 18th Street Bridge Will Be Closed for Repairs Until April (DNA)
  • RedEye Looks at Active Trans’ Campaign to Separate Pedestrians & Cyclists on Lakefront Trail
  • Homeless People Discuss the Ins-and-Outs of Panhandling on Expressway Ramps (WBEZ)
  • Second Ward Aldermanic Hopeful Says She’ll Personally Fix Your Local Pothole (DNA)
  • Holiday Train Visits the Pink Line Today (Tattler)

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  • Social_werkk

    There’s a local restaurant in my area that typically has 4-5 cars valet parked in the tow zone and I’ve been tempted to call 311. Anyone have any success with this?

  • Matt F

    Regarding income boost for cabbie fares — so basically we are just accepting that cabbies are government employees now? I mean, there’s so much regulation on their industry that they it sounds like they have no control of their own income. Reasons like this is what allows Uber and Lyft to thrive.

    One of the reforms include:

    “Reducing by 60 percent — from $1,000 to $400 —the maximum fine that can be levied against cabdrivers for a host of violations”

    …which translates into cabbies driving more aggressively. No thanks, I believe if you are driving professionally, every day for hours on end you should be held to the highest standards, not given a shortcut. These guys are constantly driving distracted and we are rewarding them.

    Also, another one of the reforms include:
    “Creating a city-wide dispatch system that would require all cabs to carry a new app modeled after the one pioneered by Uber and Lyft. A central dispatch system that includes all 7,000 Chicago cabs — instead of just a few hundred — will make cabs “more competitive” with ride-sharing and improve the quality of service to under-served neighborhoods, according to Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek. An RFP is expected to be issued shortly.”

    …but I thought what made Uber and Lyft racist and discriminatory was that (cabbies claimed) you needed a smartphone to operate it and they wouldn’t drive you to bad neighborhoods. Now they pull a 180 and want to step into the present? BTW I have complete faith that any phone app designed by the City of Chicago is almost certain to suck terribly. I’m looking forward to the near future where yo u request a cab on this app and then watch the cab drive away in a different direction. “Hi i need a cab in Logan Square” “Ok 30 minutes” and an hour later they still don’t come.

  • Kevin M

    Uber and Lyft restrict reservation to only smartphone owners. A central dispatching app for all Chicago cabs would be opening a new reservation channel /in addition to/ the existing channels (phone, street hail).

  • rohmen

    ” ‘Reducing by 60 percent — from $1,000 to $400 —the maximum fine that can be levied against cabdrivers for a host of violations’

    …which translates into cabbies driving more aggressively. No thanks, I believe if you are driving professionally, every day for hours on end you should be held to the highest standards, not given a shortcut. These guys are constantly driving distracted and we are rewarding them.”

    So, why wouldn’t this apply equally to uber and lyft drivers?? In other words, why does an uber driver only face regular penalties for infractions, while taxi drivers face increased penalties, when they are essentially performing the exact same function?

    This is my biggest problem with uber as a concept. We have imposed all these regulations on cabs presumably for a reason, so why should a company be able to come in and operate as a gypsy cab and not have to follow the vast majority of those regulations? Point being, if you’re against lowering fines for cabs (or getting rid of other regulations), you should be for increasing fines on and/or regulating uber drivers.

    Maybe you are in support of that, but it’s not entirely clear from your comment.

  • skyrefuge

    “This is my biggest problem with uber as a concept. We have imposed all these regulations on cabs presumably for a reason, so why should a company be able to come in and operate as a gypsy cab and not have to follow the vast majority of those regulations?”

    The reason we imposed all those regulations on cabs is because, in the past, it was the only reasonable way to provide a service that people could trust. The city says “people trust *us*, so if you meet our requirements, we’ll give you our seal of approval, and that means they’ll trust *you*.” With the rise of the mobile Internet, Uber/Lyft found a new way to establish trust, via individual user/driver ratings and detailed tracking. Thus, an Uber driver should only face normal penalties, because extra penalties are not needed to encourage trustworthiness and good behavior; the threat of negative user ratings should be sufficient to accomplish that goal.

    I’m guessing the new city-wide dispatch system will not incorporate the same kind of user feedback, so the higher fines should stay in place for cabs as a “behave yourself” incentive to make up for the lack of that feedback mechanism.

    Anyone *should* be able to come in and operate as a gypsy cab, but no one will use them until they find a method to establish themselves as trustworthy.

  • rohmen

    I get that is uber’s (and it’s supporters) line, but I disagree that user ratings alone are sufficient to balance out against things like increased penalties on taxis, or other safety-based regulations imposed on taxi drivers by law.

    Maybe I prefer my uber driver to speed like crazy and cut off a cyclist in order to drop me exactly where I want to get out, so I give them 5 stars. Or maybe I’m ticked because the guy looked at me wrong or said he didn’t like the bulls, so I give him 2 stars. Or maybe, like most people, I’m just lazy and I don’t take the time to rate anyone in the first place–good or bad. In other words, user reviews are extremely subjective and often a poor sample of what is really going on. Yelp is a great example of that. On top of that, there’s already anecdotal stories of banned uber drivers just using a relative’s ID to get back in the system, and uber arbitrarily relying on ratings when deciding who to fire and retain.

    I think governments will eventually be forced to react in one of two ways to uber in the market place—either lower the applicable regulations for cabs (hope you like surge pricing!), or increase regulations on uber. Rahm has shown which way he intends to move Chicago with his proposed changes. And maybe that’s not all bad—though as a society, I say we should ask why we regulated cabs so heavily in the first place, and then decide if any of those reasons justify being a bit tougher on uber than we have been.

  • skyrefuge

    “I say we should ask why we regulated cabs so heavily in the first place”

    I agree. Do you have an answer that goes beyond my “trust-establishment” reason? I don’t. I don’t see any reason for the city to levy a higher fine on a driver depending on whether they are driving where a passenger told them to vs. somewhere they just wanted to go on their own.

    If Uber’s rating system is insufficient to establish trust, then people won’t use Uber, and they they won’t be a threat to the legacy cab industry, and we have no problem. Sure, Uber and Yelp rating systems are not perfect, but they’re the best thing the world has ever seen up ’til this point, evidenced by the fact that they’re good enough to gain the trust of millions of users.

    A world full of surge-pricing is a better world for everyone. See: airline deregulation.

  • Matt F

    I feel like the government has an obligation to regulate an industry when the market doesn’t do a good job on its own. It used to be the case that cabs needed regulation so that customers could trust the fare was fair. Now we live in a state where companies can provide the same service without the regulation — and regulations are what is keeping cab companies from being competitive (well, that and other things, like cleanliness and rudeness). But the point is if the market can do the job just fine why do we need things like $360k yearly medallions??

  • rohmen

    To the degree that any safety regulation at the end of the day can basically be boiled down to the concept of “trust-establishment” between and operator and user—i.e, that you’ll be able to trust the person to get you there safely, and that you will have a recourse if they do not—I agree. I just disagree that governments are required to leave such safety/liability concerns purely to a free market sink or swim solution, though I’d guess that cuts to the real heart of our differences.

    If I believed people acted in a perfectly rational manner, I would be fine with saying that uber will sink or swim based solely on whether its user rating system is sufficient to establish trust with consumers that it will protect the general public’s safety.

    People are not perfectly rationale, however, when making purchasing decisions. Instead, people use a service like uber because its cheap and convenient, often without considering deeper safety issues, let alone even larger-in-scope issues like whether an insurance gap situation exists. Something like an insurance gap situation presents a true asymmetric information problem that a customer could likely never determine on their own, especially where uber actually refused to release its policies for review to the media or even to the City Council.

  • JKM13

    An easier way to boost income for cabbies is for them to stop driving like assholes. You’d think since their paycheck goes into the gas tank, they would have an incentive not to push the pedal to the floor only to slam on the brakes the next block. Every. F’n. Block.

    I get that Uber/Lyft have an unfair regulatory advantage, but the few times I’ve been in a cab post-Uber, I’m quickly reminded why I just don’t care. Even if my uber driver has to rely on 3 different GPS’s to get to my destination, he’s unlikely to drive and act like a jag. That goes a long way.

  • Fred

    Now that the cab industry has competition they should be allowed to set their own rates. The rate should be universal among all city cabs and limited to changing once or twice per year, but let them set it. If the market allows $10/mi, why not let them charge it? It would be interesting to see what fair market value for a cab actually is.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    I got hung up on when I called 311 last night to report a car parked in the protected bike lane on harrison just east of state. I told a group of police officer about 5 blocks north as I saw them while I was walking. I hope they did something about it. it was rainy and dark and exactly the kind of weather cyclists don’t need to be swerving around parked cars in.

  • Dennis McClendon

    For years, I’ve found that 311 routinely hangs up on callers. I think it’s a way for them to boost their “calls handled” statistics.

  • Fred

    Call 911 for things that need to be handled immediately eg illegal parking, bar noise complaints. 311 is for longer term things, eg pot holes.

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