Rahm Proposes Chicago Taxi Upgrades, Reforms

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday large-scale reforms meant to make Chicago taxis safer and more environmentally friendly.

The city of Chicago plans to set new limits on the age of cabs and require new taxis to have no more than 75,000 miles, down from the current 150,000 miles. Emanuel also wants to raise lease rates to incentivize fuel-efficient cars, wheelchair-accessible vehicles and a modernized, updated fleet.

A standardized lease system will restrict add-on charges that companies have incorporated to protect drivers from illegal overcharges, Emanuel said.

It's not known whether these changes will translate into fare increases for riders. The proposal goes to City Council on Wednesday.   

”These reforms will increase safety and bring Chicago’s taxi fleet into the 21st century by enhancing oversight of drivers, ensuring vehicles are modern and more fuel-efficient, and giving customers a cleaner and safer ride,” said Emanuel in a statement.

The reforms were created after a recent review of the local taxi industry by the city of Chicago that included input from aldermen, taxi companies and independent drivers and owners.

They include mandatory credit card machines and GPS in all cabs, as well as real-time access to Secretary of State's moving violations database to take dangerous drivers off the street.  

“These are commonsense reforms that are in line with the interests of cabdrivers, passengers, and the companies,” said Ald. Anthony Beale, who announced the changes Monday with the mayor. “The result will be a more efficient taxi industry that will serve the public in a better, more efficient, and most importantly, safer manner.”

Other changes include: denial of renewal for drivers with three moving violations in a 12-month period, limitation to no more than 12 hours of driving each day for drivers, focusing on safety in coursework for taxi drivers and a $100 incentive for wheelchair accessible vehicles.

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