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Suffering Taxi Industry Finds Hope In City's Cab-Hailing Apps

By Tanveer Ali | September 22, 2017 6:09am
 Curb and Arro are apps that can be used to hail taxis in Chicago.
Curb and Arro are apps that can be used to hail taxis in Chicago.
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DNAinfo/Tanveer Ali

CHICAGO — The number of people hailing cabs through official city apps has doubled since last summer, though the numbers remain small.

Last summer, the city launched its CHICABS project, allowing customers to hail cabs through third-party apps Arro and Curb. The move was intended to help cabdrivers, who have seen the number of rides they give dwindle after ride-share companies Uber and Lyft came to Chicago in 2013.

Between June and August this year, the two apps were used to hail about 134,000 cabs. Last year in that same period, the apps hailed a little more than 63,000.

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"We call that a success and are working to make the 'CHICABS' program even more popular," Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

Overall, the apps, though, were used for just 2.9 percent of the 7.6 million cab rides given through July. The growth in use hasn't been enough to stem a decline in cab rides that has accelerated this year.

A DNAinfo analysis of city data found cab rides are down 41 percent compared with last year, though city officials note that number might fluctuate based on how cab companies report information to the city.

Escareno said the apps represent one of multiple initiatives implemented by the city to help cabdrivers. Last year, the city enacted a 15 percent fare increase while lowering credit card transaction fees.

Escareno said that "taxis and rides-hares are two different industries that provide consumers with choice for safe, reliable transportation options."