Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, May 11

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  • Re: Fingerprints. Since I don’t know the history of cab regulation I guess I am doomed to repeat it. If there are good reasons for the regulation then the ride-hailing business needs to be accountable to it. And if there are not good reasons for it then sure repeal the regulations. But since legal reforms take time, while the reforms are being changed, the playing field needs to be leveled.

  • Louis S

    Re: Chicago Magazine’s terrible advice for the LFT
    Discouraging riders from calling passing because it harshes the author’s mellow is dangerous. Even the photo they use for the article displays several dangerous behaviors (riding on the wrong side of the path, not calling passing, wearing in-ear headphones in both ears).

  • what_eva

    Completely unrelated to today’s headlines, but wondering what other SB readers would have done.

    Last night I got on the Red Line northbound at Lake. There was a guy with a BMX style bike in the entry of the car I boarded. I ended up standing in the middle of the car. As I’m half-spacing-out, I notice that the bike has a locked cable lock on it, front wheel wouldn’t be able to turn. It slowly dawns on me that it’s probably stolen, but I have no idea what to do. Call police isn’t likely to get a response very quickly. Guy ends up exiting at Clark/Division.

  • BlueFairlane

    I’d have done what you did and left it alone, as you didn’t actually see the bike get stolen and don’t know for a fact that that was what had happened, as there are other ways for that sort of scenario to have occurred. (Such things are unlikely … but then again, I’ve had them happen.) If the bike was stolen, you don’t know where it came from or that it’s registered so that the police could confirm ownership or be able to return it, and you don’t know where it came from. There’s too much uncertainty there to risk a confrontation, and as you say, the cops wouldn’t get there in any reasonable time if you tried calling. I think you’re better off letting that one pass.

    I’m betting my view’s a minority on here.

  • ohsweetnothing

    What about fee/tax structure? Or the ability to street hail? Because both of those are examples of where the playing field isn’t level, but in favor of cabs…

  • ohsweetnothing

    Judging by the DNA info article, I think we found a way to get people to care about people on bikes being hit by auto drivers. Just add the word “gangbanger” or have the offender be black and voila…. :-/

  • What about the ability of drivers to sue for humane working conditions? Or undergo background checks so riders can be sure they’re not going to be robbed or assaulted (both things that have happened hundreds of times on Uber rides just since January)?

    The fee/tax structure strongly favors Uber, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Riders can’t sue for humane working conditions? Labor law isn’t my specialty so you’ll have to explain further. Are you talking about the IC v. employee issue?

    Both Lyft and Uber drivers undergo background checks already. “Hundreds of times” where!?!? I’ve seen more stories of rideshare passengers assaulting drivers than the other way around.

    Uber pays the city waaaay more than cabs. We charge them the highest fees/taxes in the nation! And don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we do.

  • rohmen

    That may be true on a straight tax/fee charged per ride, but I strongly question how true that point is when you factor in the City’s cut of medallion fees charged to cabs.

  • ohsweetnothing

    That’s a flat fee. And that’s contingent on medallions changing hands. In fact, I think there may even be a way to buy/sell medallions private to private without the city getting its fee…but I’m less sure there.

  • rohmen

    I honestly don’t have a lot of sympathy for cabs, but medallions raise two issues: (1) since the City set a limit through regulation, cabs paid a grossly inflated amount at one point to operate in this City. That’s an expense cabs bore specifically because of regulation, and something Uber has never had to compete with. To this day, you could still not just decide to operate a cab unless you buy a medallion at auction, and it would still cost 100k or more to obtain one (for anyone foolish enough to do so); and (2) transfer fees charged by the City may have been a flat fee, but it netted millions.

    I’m all for abolishing the medallion system, but cabs charge what they charge, and I’d argue are taxed on a lower basis, because what you call a “flat fee” is fixed into that equation. Again, I hate cabs, and I use Uber, but I think it’s unfair to simply draw a line and say from this point forward Uber is the more “taxed” operation.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Well I’m with you insofar that I also think the medallion system is a huge issue and definitely created a medallion market “bubble” that Uber popped, but many of those medallions were purchased by financial institutions and not persons/companies with any intent to operate a cab or cab company. It’s hard for me to feel bad for them having to eat their loss today. Also, I’m pretty sure medallions do not have to be auctioned off, but the details of how that works are admittedly sketchy in my mind. FWIW, medallions are worth far below 100k today, and many of those same financial institutions are sitting on them in hopes of dumping them if/when the value goes back up. Sound familiar to another product that had a pretty devastating boom/bust cycle in recent history?

    I’m all for abolishing the medallion system too, I think Uber is too judging by their op-eds. The cab companies themselves (or drivers or medallion holders) are against it though, because that would = more competition on the road.

    I get the history and the cumulative impact of past medallion fees, but I don’t see how it’s unfair to say that ever since they became regulated by the City, Uber has paid more than cabs…

    Also I’ll openly admit my anti-cab bias, my post in yesterday’s headlines is most, if not all, of why I have 0 sympathy for that industry.

  • planetshwoop

    Uber and the cab industry will blend together to become very very similar within a few years.

    Uber (and Lyft) got where they are by breaking the rules and then saying “Oops.” They were/are able to undercut others on price because they’re getting lots of investor money. That won’t last forever and eventually they will need to make money.

    Taxis got away with underserving and just generally being terrible because they had a regulatory monopoly.

    Uber and Lyft will either be forced to become more regulated by municipalities — history will recreate itself — or the drivers will restrict their “supply” to drive up their wages. Taxis will improve their services or specialize to make themselves more like Uber.

    (As a cyclist, I have come to despise both. They add significantly to traffic downtown by circling for rides, and pull over frequently to let random passengers out in the bike lane. I expect that from a taxi and can tell because of how they’re painted. I’m lucky that I don’t need or use their services, I guess.)

  • ohsweetnothing

    That’s what I suspect will ultimately happen as well. I’m actually not crazy about either option, but the times I do need a ride…ubers/lyfts have picked me up quickly without any additional drama. Hence my bias.

    I also primarily bike, so what I really hope happens is that we continue building up biking and public transit infrastructure so that both services become less and less necessary! haha.

  • Fred

    Robot cars will eventually render them both obsolete.