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Cabbies Get Relief From City in Competition With Ride Sharing

By Ted Cox | December 10, 2014 12:02pm
 Cabbies get a few breaks with a new city ordinance.
Cabbies get a few breaks with a new city ordinance.
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CITY HALL — The City Council moved to grant cabbies a little relief Wednesday in their competition with ride-sharing drivers.

The council approved a so-called Taxi Cab Driver Fairness Ordinance that will lower lease rates, cut maximum fines by more than half, trim credit-card fees and allow revenue sharing on advertising atop and inside cabs.

The ordinance cleared a joint meeting of the Transportation and License committees Tuesday with little opposition.

Although the ordinance had little effect on ride-sharing firms like Uber and Lyft, backers praised that it eases competition between taxis and ride sharing by easing the financial strain on cabbies. Supporters estimated it could save the average taxi driver as much as $8,000 a year.

"We have found a way to level the playing field somewhat," said Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), adding that it will "put money into the drivers' pockets."

Maximum fines for taxi rule violations — not including traffic violations — were cut from $1,000 to $400.

The ordinance also called for the creation of a city smartphone app for "e-hailing" taxis and a task force to address additional reforms.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) praised cabbies as "the ambassadors of this great city" and said they had been "overregulated."

In other business:

• The council approved $13 million in three legal settlements, including two botched police investigations and one suit charging racial and sexual bias in Fire Department hiring.

• Ald. Ray Suarez (31st) led a parliamentary move to postpone a vote on an ordinance that would have called for the city's busiest gas stations to carry E15 fuel, with 15 percent ethanol. It will be delayed to the January council meeting.

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