Uber, Chicago taxis expand partnership that allows taxi drivers to pick up riders requesting through Uber

Starting Thursday, taxi drivers will be able to pick up rides through the Uber app in Chicago

NBC Universal, Inc.

For years, taxis ruled the streets of Chicago.

But rideshare apps and the pandemic drastically slowed business, as shown by a massive decrease in taxi trips over just a 10-year period.

According to City of Chicago data, there were 27.2 million taxi trips in 2013, compared to just 6.5 million in 2023.

Now, Uber is making changes.

"Uber is expanding its existing partnership with taxi technology companies Arro and Curb Mobility," Uber spokespeople said in a release. "We firmly believe that Uber and taxis are better together.

Curb Mobility CEO Amos Tamam believes the partnership will be a win for both the taxi industry and Uber.

“Uber needs more supply, taxis needs more demand. So I think it’s a strong partnership," he told NBC Chicago. “In the last 10 years, the [taxi] industry lost tremendous portion of its revenue stream, which is consumer demand.”

Chicago riders will start to see a "local taxi" option in their Uber app. It will be the same price as an UberX, and customers will have the opportunity to choose between the two.

Tamam believes the change will help provide more opportunities for taxis.

“I like it," said Thomas Rainey, who has been a taxi cab driver in Chicago since 2009. "The only thing I see is that you’re going to get more rides. Especially on the weekends.”

While Rainey welcomed the change, not all drivers see the partnership as a win.

“It destroyed my life," driver Issac Gender said of rideshare apps. Gender began driving a cab in Chicago 17 years ago.

"A lot of cab drivers also are upset with the fact it destroyed us, and now they cannot use us and make their pocket even bigger," he said.

While Gender will stick to hailing riders and the Curb App, which Tamam says will continue operating, the Uber and taxi rollout starts Thursday.

Uber advocate Lori Simmons fears it will make the market more competitive for riders.

"There’s going to be more competition when fares are high. When fares are low, taxis will have the option of going back to strictly taxi work," she said.

Tamam said he believes it will make the rider experience stronger.

"I mean teaming up with your biggest competitor is always a concern, but who’s to say two competitors cannot yield a better result? And I think that’s the case," he said. "It’s also great for consumers because the ETA or waiting time for a taxi is much shorter.”

Camiel Irving, Vice President & General Manager of US & Canada Mobility Operations at Uber, said the company looks forward to working with taxis and they plan to roll the program out in more cities throughout the country.

It could take several days before all Chicagoans see the changes in their Uber app.

Contact Us