Chicago aldermen debate ridesharing reform proposal

- The future of ridesharing in Chicago was on the line Wednesday at a city council committee meeting that turned testy at times.

The debate was over a proposal for so-called ridesharing reform. 

“You and your company, sir, are not very good city partners, if that's the case!” said Alderman Lopez to applause and boos.

On Wednesday, ridesharing executives got an earful from some Chicago aldermen. The committee hearing at times turned raucous. Taxi drivers, along with drivers from UBER and LYFT, filled the council chambers to weigh in on new ridesharing regulations proposed by Alderman Anthony Beale.

“This ordinance is just going to require fingerprinting, background checks, and then also, they have to provide rides to people with disability,” said Alderman Anthony Beale.

Beale says that's what is already required of taxi drivers.

Taxi driver Bennie Traylor says it's already an uneven playing field when it comes to rates.

“We can't compete with those prices because they can surge it up or surge it down versus we're regulated,” Traylor said.

LYFT vice president Joseph Okpaku mentioned three cities where LYFT pulled out because of regulations similar to those proposed in Chicago.

“When we leave a city, it is a heart wrenching decision for a company like ours,” Okpaku said.

“Nobody is trying to run you guys out. And I really take offense that you guys are putting that out there,” Alderman Beale said.

Uber's making no outright threat to leave Chicago.

“So ridesharing as we know it would no longer exist in Chicago under these rules,” said Illinois UBER GM Marco McCottry.

But they did point out that the thirty-thousand UBER drivers in Chicago are serving underserved communities, with prices 50 percent cheaper than taxis.

“In Illinois you want to talk about leveling the playing field? Let’s talk about modernizing the rules and the regulations that exist for taxis that have been in place for decades,” McCottry said.

Alderman Beale's proposal wasn't put to a vote, but it's likely to come before the full city council sometime in June.

Supporters of the ridesharing ordinance say they've got the support of at least 34 of the city's 50 aldermen.

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