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Red Line Shutdown Could Boost Business for Independent Cab Company

By Wendell Hutson | May 9, 2013 8:09am | Updated on May 9, 2013 10:15am
 Once the Red Line south shuts down for six months of repairs beginning May 19, 2013 a local cab company is hoping to see an increase in business.
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ROSELAND — Edward Trevor is one of the few Chicagoans who is actually looking forward to the CTA's Red Line reconstruction project: He hopes it helps his cab business.

"Once the Red Line stops running this month I am hoping that creates a greater demand for us," said Trevor, owner of Ed's Livery Cab.

Ed's Livery will go anywhere in the city, he said.

"We were created because regular cab companies would not travel to black neighborhoods. There is no place we won't pick up or drop off a customer. That is what we are known for doing," said Trevor, 68. 

In two weeks, the CTA is set to shut down the Red Line south route, which begins at Cermak Road and ends at 95th and State streets, for the six-month reconstruction project.

The CTA will provide free shuttle buses to carry riders from the 95th Street station to the Green Line station at 55th and Garfield Boulevard and vice versa.

But with large crowds expected, commuter Anthony Baker Jr. said he probably will start taking a cab.

"This is the first time I am using a livery cab. I heard about it, but never used it until today," Baker said Wednesday. "I'm not one for long lines or standing a long time either. That means I will probably end up using a livery cab until the trains are back running again."

Baker is not alone.

"Normally, I walk to the train station, but now that the trains won't be running I might have to use a cab in between," said Bianca Spencer, 32, who lives in Roseland.

"Those other cabs won't stop for black folks, and they definitely won't pick up from a black neighborhood like Roseland. Using a a livery cab may be my only option and a last resort," Spencer said.

Being the last resort is fine with Trevor.

"While white cab drivers refuse to come to the black community, we continue to service everyone. I guess they [white cab drivers] are afraid of getting robbed. But not us," added Trevor. "If we don't service our own people then who will?"

Ed's Livery Cab, 9443 S. State St., is near the Red Line station at 95th Street. It dispatches cabs from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays.

The unconventional taxi cab company has seven drivers who use their own vehicles. Each driver must have a valid driver's license and proof of insurance "if they want to work for me," said Trevor, whose parents founded the business in 1947.

Fares are determined by the number of blocks traveled. For eight blocks it's a standard $5 fee, and $1 for every block thereafter, said Trevor.

The drivers are considered independent contractors, so they work for themselves and set their own schedules. However, each driver must pay a weekly fee to have calls dispatched to them. They keep the fares they collect, Trevor said.

Most customers are black and live on the South Side, although there are occasional customers who need rides to the West Side, Trevor said.

Enice Bell, 86, has been driving for Trevor the last 10 years. He uses his 2004 Chevy Impala.

"I live in Auburn Gresham, one of the worst areas in the city, where gunshots are a regular occurrence almost every night," Bell said. "You can't get a 'regular' cab to come pick you up if you live in Auburn Gresham. That's why we are needed."