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'Surcharge on Surge Charge' Sought by Aldermen on Ride Sharing

By Ted Cox | September 11, 2015 5:24pm | Updated on September 11, 2015 6:17pm
 Ald. Anthony Beale wants to impose a
Ald. Anthony Beale wants to impose a "surcharge on the surge charge" sometimes imposed by ride-sharing services.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — Two top aldermen say they want to impose "a surcharge on the surge charge" sometimes imposed by ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the Transportation Committee, said Friday he and Ald. Edward Burke (14th) will propose an ordinance creating "a surcharge on the surge charge for ride sharing."

Beale said they were still working out the formula, but that if the City Council would impose a surcharge on ride sharing, as has been proposed to help balance the city's budget, "It will go up as their charges go up."

Beale said that if a ride-sharing service were to charge three or four times their normal rates through what's called "surge pricing" for Uber and "prime time" for Lyft, say during a storm or a special event like New Year's Eve, the designated surcharge would go up a corresponding amount.

"If they want to surge, I think it's only right that they pass that on to the taxpayers of Chicago," Beale said.

Beale said it was also intended to "level the playing field" with cabs, which aren't permitted to raise rates through surge pricing.

Uber, however, was not prepared to accept the added surcharge.

"We're opposed to any regressive plan that would eliminate driver jobs," said Uber spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. "By instituting the highest rider tax in the nation, this proposal makes it much more expensive for Chicagoans in every neighborhood to get a ride, especially in areas that can least afford it. As a result, drivers will earn less and have fewer economic opportunities.

"We urge the city to consider progressive revenue options that don't cut jobs," she added.

Beale said that if the new measure discouraged the practice of surge pricing, he was content with that, saying, "If they see the errors of their ways and stop charging, God bless 'em."

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