Legal Battle Over Transportation Network Companies Shifts to Chicago

Chicago political leaders are floating a pair of competing bills that would regulate transportation network companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. Cab companies are pushing for legislation, seeking a “level playing field” in the market.
March 27, 2014, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Greg Hinz reports on the regulatory possibilities presented by two bills—the first under consideration in Springfield by the Illinois General Assembly, the second currently in committee in the Chicago City Council.

Cab companies support “a bill in Springfield that was officially unveiled today by Rep. Mike Zalewski and Sen. Marty Sandoval, both Chicago Democrats, that would require all shared-ride operators to carry tons of insurance, drive vehicles no older than four years no longer than 10 hours a day, obtain chauffeurs' licenses and be prepared to serve all neighborhoods, sometimes with wheelchair-accessible vehicles.”

“Uber is backing a more modest proposal offered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel…While it would require insurance and background checks, it would allow drivers to use their regular licenses and cars — providing they aren't "salvage, rebuilt, junk or total loss" cars — permit digital dispatching of cars and direct all wheelchair-related calls to a central city dispatch system.”

Hinz sums up the hard-to-answer questions at the heart of the ongoing regulatory debate: “Similar disputes have arisen in other cities, but the core questions remain the same: Are tough regulations needed to protect the public, and must the rules be the same for all providers? Or is it best just to open the doors and let the market work it out, sort of like how consumers have a choice between full-service airlines and cheaper upstarts?”

Seattle, for one, recently took the most drastic steps thus far to limit the business of transportation network companies, by capping the amount of cars in operation at any given time for each of the companies.

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Published on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 in Crain's Chicago Business
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