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Lyft Cheers Compromise That Would Delay Fingerprinting Drivers

By Ted Cox | June 20, 2016 5:57pm | Updated on June 24, 2016 11:48am
 Lyft cheered a proposed City Council compromise with taxi backers.
Lyft cheered a proposed City Council compromise with taxi backers.
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Justin Sullivan/Scott Olson

CITY HALL — Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are celebrating a compromise on regulations that would delay fingerprinting of drivers at least six months.

Calling it "an honest compromise," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday that he had "worked through some issues" with Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the Transportation Committee.

Beale rammed a measure calling for ride-hailing drivers to get a restricted chauffeur's license through committee Friday. He conceded Monday on a six- to nine-month study on whether fingerprinting of drivers — called for in obtaining a chauffeur's license — would be necessary.

Ride-hailing services would also be given a year to comply with other provisions, such as wheelchair access.

Emanuel promised it would provide "a level playing field across the system," while offering Chicagoans "quality choices, whether they want to do a taxi or want to do ride share."

Lyft immediately cheered the compromise.

"Thousands of Chicagoans have voiced their support for the safe rides and economic opportunities Lyft provides throughout the city," said spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson. "This agreement sets high safety standards while still allowing people to use Lyft to get around. We urge the full Council to pass this revised ordinance on Wednesday."

A coalition of groups including the Cab Drivers United union, the Illinois Transportation Trade Association and the Chicago Federation of Labor was less enthusiastic, issuing a statement saying: "We have not seen the actual language of the substitute ordinance, but based on reports that the it would remove fingerprinting, create a less stringent [Transportation Network Provider] license, lower the standards for taxi chauffeur licenses and further delay TNP accessibility for the disabled, we are staunchly opposed to this substitute."

The pro-taxi groups said Beale's original proposal passed last week was already a compromise, and that ride-hailing drivers should be subject to the same safety provisions, including fingerprint-based background checks, as cabbies and many city employees.

Prospects for passage Wednesday were still uncertain. Beale had a majority of the Council sign on to his original measure, and hard-liners defending cabbies could still fight accepting the compromise ordinance, or move to table it or otherwise defer it.

The compromise will be introduced directly on the Council floor during Wednesday's meeting.

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