Chicago Cabbies Seek Fare Increase

Taxi union seeks increase equivalent to 25 percent

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Struggling Chicago cab drivers released a plan Monday aimed to put more money in their pockets. NBC 5's Charlie Wojciechowski reports. (Published Monday, Jul 21, 2014)

    Struggling Chicago cab drivers released a plan Monday aimed to put more money in their pockets.

    Drivers say their Comprehensive Income Improvement Plan needs to be implemented in order to survive.

    "Nobody will survive. Cabs will be something you see in the movies," driver Karen Chamberlin said.

    The United Taxi Drivers Community Council (UTCC) is the union that represents Chicago cab drivers, and they say their ranks are thinning, partially because of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, but also because they can't make enough money to survive.

    "Less income and over-regulation. Even the newest drivers who take the chauffeur license cannot hang on long enough to learn to do a good job as a cab driver. It's not as easy as it looks," UTCC secretary Peter Enger said.

    The UTCC's 10-point plan to revive the industry includes a mandatory, citywide smartphone hailing app that would replace what it says are antiquated radio dispatch systems.

    In addition to changes in dispatching, the cabbies want a fare increase equivalent to about 25 percent, which the cab drivers haven't seen in eight years.

    "My lease rate is up almost double from the last time we got a rate increase," Chamberlain said. "Fuel is double since we last got an increase. Customers have gone down. We don't have the customer base anymore."

    But many riders aren't sympathetic, saying cabs are already too expensive.

    "It's too expensive. You hop in a cab and it's 5-10 bucks for two to three blocks. I feel bad for them because the gas it so expensive," rider Brendan Appel said.

    The taxi union says Chicago ranks 35th in the nation when it comes to cab fares, but the increases would vault the city into the top 10.

    Any fare increase would require the city's approval.

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