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Inspector General: All Cab Should Have GPS

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 8, 2010 3:40PM

2010_10_8_GPS.jpg Inspector General Joe Ferguson released a report yesterday recommending that all of the city's taxis be equipped with global positioning devices linking them to a central system to allow for better tracking. The report was influenced in part by the still unsolved hit-and-run death of U of C grad student Dan Firkins, who was killed in May after being dragged by a cabbie down the street during an argument while he was trying to get to class. Despite pleas from the city, the cabbie involved in Firkins's death has not turned himself in.

Ferguson estimated that linking all of the city's cabs to a central GPS system would better allow the city to track the comings and goings of cab drivers, track stolen or lost goods and, most important, track down cabbies involved in hit-and-run accidents. Taxis have been required to have GPS installed since 2007, but there's no requirement mandating they be connected to a single system, nor is GPS info collected and analyzed. Taxis have been the "offending vehicle" in 88 hit-and-run accidents against pedestrians, and 46 involving cyclists.

Ferguson estimated in his report that the cost to do this would be less than $2 million to taxpayers and $833 a year for taxi company owners. The proposal most liekly will see opposition within City Hall. Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Norma Reyes, in a written statement, opposed an integrated system, citing the taxi industry's “considerable investment” in electronic dispatch equipment and credit card processing, which seem like completely separate systems than an integrated GPS tracking system.

The Inspector General's report also was released as cabbies have petitioned City Council for the first fare increase in five years.