Cabbies Want a Puke Penalty

Taxi drivers ask for higher flag fee, higher rate, and added fees

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Taxi drivers asking for a bunch of new fees, including a "vomit clean-up" fee.

    We might give taxi drivers a lot of (deserved) flak, but cabbies have to put up with plenty of headaches from lost tourists, bossy backseat drivers, loud chatterers, and—probably more than anything else— vomitous drunks.

    In order to make up for that lost time and disgusting clean-up, cab drivers want to enforce a $50 fee on anyone who vomits in the car.

    "If someone throws up in the back of a cab, it's no laughing matter to the cab driver, who now has to take two hours to detail the cab," said George Lutfallah, a driver who publishes Chicago Dispatcher, a newspaper for cabbies.

    Along with the puke penalty, drivers are asking the city for an additional $0.50 for each ride, an additional $0.30 per mile, a credit-card fee of $1.50, and a dispatch call fee of $1.00.

    Mayor Daley says he sympathizes with the drivers. After all, there hasn't been a fare increase since 2005.

    But considering the recession, the timing of their request couldn't be worse.

    "This economy cannot support that," said Norma Reyes, commissioner of the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. "There was testimony by a driver that ridership is down 40 percent. Imagine what would happen to ridership if there was a 22 percent fare increase. You need to balance what the consumer can support."

    A 22-percent increase? Ugh... hold on... I think I'm about to be sick...

    Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, feels uncomfortable when the cabbie asks him for directions.