At the end of a difficult air travel weekend for Chicago comes some big transit news, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that rideshare service Lyft will now be allowed to travel to O'Hare and Midway International airports for drop-offs and pick-ups.
This new regulation is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's budget package, which Chicago's City Council passed in October. Just 48 hours before the vote, Emanuel amended the budget to charge rideshare drivers an additional 2 cents per ride to help cut the registration costs for traditional cab drivers in exchange for allowing rideshare drivers access to airports.
Before they begin airport drop-offs and pick-ups, rideshare drivers must register with the city, undergo airport-specific training, and install identification signage to their vehicles. They will also have to pay $5 each time they go to the airport.
Emanuel has been a proponent of rideshare companies in Chicago, but members of the Cab Drivers United union and many aldermen in City Council opposed plans to allow airport access. The added 2-cent fee was a concession on the mayor's behalf in order to gain enough "yes" votes in the meeting last week to pass his historic budget plan.
Rideshare drivers will only be allowed access to certain parts of O'Hare and Midway airports to drop off and pick up drivers. At O'Hare, they can pick passengers up on the upper level of the domestic concourse between Terminals 1 and 2 and between Terminals 2 and 3, according to the mayor's office. At the international terminal, drivers will have a designated spot on the lower level.
At Midway, drivers can pick up and drop off passengers at the south end of the upper level of the terminal. Additionally, 15 parking spots will be set aside in the south end of the cellphone lot where drivers can wait for their fares.
As of Monday, Lyft is the only company that has received approval from the Chicago Department of Aviation but a spokesperson for Uber told the Chicago Sun-Times the company has filed the paperwork and are waiting for approval.