Today’s Headlines for Thursday, May 26

  • Ride-Share Drivers Clash With Cabbies at City Council Hearing (DNA)
  • Woman Killed After Truck/Car Crash in Sauk Village, Semi Hits Abandoned Home (ABC)
  • Kickstarter Launched to Help Loop’s “Walking Man” After Brutal Attack (DNA)
  • City: 4 Hours After Crash, Fire Deputy Had Nearly 2X the Legal Alcohol Limit (Sun-Times)
  • Union Station Overhaul May Include a High-Rise (Curbed)
  • Neighbors Say I-55 Noise Wall Would Be a $400M Boondoggle (DNA)
  • Sad News for Cyclists, Country Fans: Easy Rider Shop & Horsehoe Bar Are Closing (DNA)
  • Many of Chicago’s Wooden Streets Are Still Intact, They’re Just Covered in Asphalt (DNA)
  • Get Bike Safety Tip at Lincoln Park’s “Spring Zing” Festival on Saturday, June 4 (DNA)
  • Architectural Bike Tours of Oak Park and Pullman Are Coming Up Next Month (Curbed)

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  • Chicagoan

    Wait, is Amtrak saying that it’s open to knocking down the Union Station garage and building something actually worthy of that site?

    I feel like a developer could build a 1,000-foot tower, mixed-use with apartments, condos, hotel space, office spaces, and retail in it, this site is that good.

  • Chicagoan

    I’d like to say that having a robust Uber in Chicago is what makes being automobile-free a reality.

    I live in a walkable neighborhood, less than .25 miles from a train station, and a bus route runs along my street. But, I still find myself in situations where I just need a car and that’s when Uber comes through. Really hoping the council doesn’t make a mistake on this.

  • Anne A

    So many people I know on the south and west sides cannot get service from traditional cab companies and can only get service from Lyft and Uber. This has offered an effective solution that the unenforced anti-discrimination law on cabs has failed to address.

  • Chicagoan

    I remember some people saying just that on here. People who lived in Austin or East/West Garfield Park having a hard time grabbing a cabbie who’d agree to drive them home from O’Hare. I think it’ll be a gross mistake, if the council goes down this road.

  • Pat

    I’m glad the old “credit card machine isn’t working” ruse isn’t coming back. Or a cab driving off when you tell them where you’re headed.

    In some ways, cab drivers brought this shift upon themselves, but I think there should be some way to make the playing field more level.

  • Kevin M

    Lets not forget that the City Council forced regulation and restriction upon the pedicab operators not too long ago.

    I feel they should regulate all ride-for-hire business models consistently and hold all public drivers (taxi, pedicab, car-sharing) accountable to the same general standards and procedures.

    (FWIW, I also think they should roll back some of the excessive restrictions on the pedicab operators)

  • rohmen

    I agree that Uber and Lyft have been great, and I use them almost exclusively now. That said, the DNA article is a little misleading, as the ordinance simply requires rideshare drivers to have the same license as cab drivers. A chauffeur’s license requirement for cabs was put in place as a safety regulation. Rideshare cars are in essence cabs that you hail with an app. Maybe the solution is to remove the chauffeur requirement for cabs, but to the degree there’s a safety-based argument against removing that regulation, I fail to see why that argument does not include rideshare drivers. Fair is fair here.

  • rohmen

    I think the danger here is the cab industry simply can’t compete in light of the regulations they are forced to operate under—chauffeur’s licenses being a prime example. If a cab driver cannot be trusted driving fairs without one, why is an uber driver any different?

    The secondary danger is that while rideshare services are great right now as the disruptive paradigm, what happens when they do drive the cab companies out of business, and there’s already an established track record of not subjecting rideshare to any form of regulation? Uber is not going to altruistically keep fairs low—something I think they do now (and supplement with surge at peak times) largely to gain an advantage over cabs. They’re going to have a huge market share, and will essentially be able to set whatever price they want for service. If the cab system is a dinosaur that dies, fine, but I think we set a dangerous precedent to say Uber/Lyft simply shouldn’t be regulated in the way cabs traditionally have been.

  • BlueFairlane

    Nobody’s really thinking much about what happens when the cab industry finally folds, and I think that’s going to come back to haunt us not too far down the road. The biggest problem I see is labor. Uber says it’s increasing the size of its driver force at some kind of insane pace (which it needs, because drivers go inactive almost as quickly), but that’s not sustainable. It plateaus somewhere, and I think that plateau is well below the total demand for both cabs and ride share companies. The free market types who love Uber so much say that market forces will automatically fill any leftover demand … which can only translate to “increased demand = increased price.” Uber and Lyft will only be able to handle a cabless Chicago is the price of a ride increases far beyond what it is now.

  • Anne A

    The cab drivers did a LOT to create this shift.

  • rohmen

    People have a tendency to treat Uber as if it’s the automobile replacing the horse buggy, and that any regulations which applied to cabs should never port over. Uber is, and always will be, nothing more than a gypsy cab service that streamlined payment and ordering convenience.

    That’s great, and I like using the service by in large. That said, it’s funny that many of the exact taxi regulations that exist today were developed to stop gypsy cabs. It’s time some of those regulations were changed or go away,for sure, but when the cabs disappear, I agree that we’re going to be reminded awfully quick why some of them (especially the fixed fair prices) were enacted in the first place.

  • skyrefuge

    For any rideshare-vs.-cab discussion, we always need to remind ourselves why cabs were heavily-regulated in the first place. Citizens and visitors to a city required a mechanism whereby they could trust that a stranger whose vehicle they stepped into would not cheat or murder them. At the time, the only obvious way to achieve that trust-mechanism was by having a municipality say: “Citizens, we will let you know who you can trust! But in order to do so, we must artificially limit the number of cabs, because we have to vet each one that we bless.” That was a good solution to an annoying problem at the time. But the advance of technology has now allowed a new trust-mechanism (Internet-based driver+rider tracking, with ratings) that works at least as well as the old mechanism, with an enormous bonus that removes the artificial limit on trusted drivers, and lets consumers directly decide how strict the vetting process should be.

    So in this case, you’re right, the way to “level the playing field” would be to remove the chauffeur’s license requirement from cabs, because the citizens are pretty clearly voting with their dollars and saying that they don’t care about their drivers having chauffeur’s licenses. Though they might want the ability to rate cabbies as a tradeoff (rather than a one-day licensing process decide whether a driver is “safe”, leverage the ongoing opinions of other riders).

  • rohmen

    I’m just not so sure the same things won’t be said about Uber drivers 5 years from now (outside refusing to take credit cards, which in my experience has died out more and more each year).

    In order to settle class action cases pushing for employee classification, Uber is giving drivers more and more freedom (they really have to if they’re going to call them independent contractors). Part of that is growing to include declining rides without penalty. So what happens when Uber drivers start refusing to pick up passengers in underserved areas to focus on where they know they’ll get a surge, or to avoid “bad” areas? I think that change is coming sooner than most would imagine, and once Uber/Lyft are the dominant players, the drivers will function more like taxi’s of old IMHO.

  • BlueFairlane

    The problem with this line of argument is that a dangerous driver has to carry passengers in order for the rating system to have any effect.

  • Fred

    I don’t believe that the city will actually let the cab industry fold. If it gets to that point, the city will bend on some combination of costs and regulations for both cabs and rideshare.

  • Why would Uber embark on an unsustainable business model? Uber depends upon its drivers eating into the un-replaced capital of their vehicle. It is like a PayDay loan in essence for their drivers. Eventually the piper bill comes due.

    Likely the reason is that they are building up a database to draw upon when they replace all of their drivers with self-driving cabs. In the meantime they survive off of the pseudo-cache’ of being a hip disruptive technology to rake in the speculative venture capital market dollars.