Chicago taxi drivers are taking a beating as Uber and Lyft become more popular in both the city and suburbs. Uber and Lyft jumped into the Chicago market back in 2013 and both companies do business with fewer regulations than Chicago taxi drivers. The number of taxi drivers is on the decline in Chicago some of them opting to embrace the competition and start driving for Uber and Lyft. Chicago taxi driver Manuel Rosales has increased his workload to 70-80 hours a week to try and make some of his earnings back from lower ride numbers.
“We’re struggling,” said Rosales, 42, who has been driving a cab for a decade to support his wife and two young daughters. “There are days when I do awesome and the next day … it’s a nightmare.”
Taxi drivers have more hoops to jump through with city regulations than Uber and Lyft drivers do. This has prompted complaints from taxi drivers that the playing field is not level and this means they pay more to operate their cabs while losing riders to competition. Unlike taxis, Uber and Lyft cars do not require a city-issued medallion, nor do they require a chauffeur’s license, both of which are extra costs to the driver. Background checks and training for taxi drivers is also more stringent than what Uber and Lyft require. Finally, taxi fares are controlled by the city where Uber and Lyft can adjust their rates depending on demand. All of these factors are contributing to the hardships the Chicago taxi scene is facing.
“The industry is really in great distress,” said Tracey Abman, associate director AFSCME Council 31, which works with the Cab Drivers United union, adding that the ride-share industry is not hampered by the strict city oversight that taxi drivers endure.
The story is similar in many major metro areas as Uber and Lyft continue to drive in and start gnawing away at taxi companies bottom lines. While more choice is a great thing for riders, the argument from the taxi drivers side is valid. The balance of regulation seems to favor Uber and Lyft at the moment and that’s what they’re hoping they can change.
What do you think of the decline of taxi services? Do you use Uber and Lyft more than taxis? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.Source: Chicago Tribune
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