Cabbies File Petition for 22 Percent Fare Hike
By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 20, 2011 4:00PM
Image Credit: the_mel
Last week Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale proposed a sweeping set of changes to Chicago's taxi industry regulation intended to modernize taxi fleets and put safer drivers behind the wheels. Days after Emanuel announced the proposal, a counter-proposal signed by 1,500 drivers was filed that includes, among other fees, a 22 percent rate hike.
Other fee hikes in the cabbies' proposal include a $1 fee for every additional passenger; a $1.50 "convenience fee" for credit card transactions; a $50 fee for fraudulent credit card use; and a $75 fee for cleaning up the vomit of late night warriors.
Cab driver Thaddeus Budzynski, the main cabbie behind the petition drive, told the Sun-Times the timing of the filing isn't coincidental.
“The city is complaining we’re working too many hours. We wouldn’t be working all these hours if they had given us fare increases in the past. After working 12 hours a day and paying operating expenses, we’re averaging $4.38 an hour,” Budzynski said Monday.
“We’ve been trying to get a fare increase for six years. In 2007, they raised our fines by 33 percent after we were denied a fare increase. They tell us we’re ambassadors of the city, but we’re not getting treated like ambassadors. We want to make a comfortable living.”
Budzynski has lobbied for a fare increase for years; the last taxi fare hike in Chicago was in 2005. Budzynski wrote last year in the comments to a post at Chicagodispatcher.com, "Chicago taxicab drivers should be making $85,000.00 a year. Cabdrivers are overworked and underpaid. If the city isn't going to take care of the cabdrivers, then the cabdrivers will not accept credit cards till the city increases the meter, and offer medallions to drivers who served the riding public for 20 years or more."
Budzynski said the mayor's proposals touch on every aspect of the local taxi industry except for the one that matters most to drivers—earning potential.
If the signatures on the petition can be verified, City Council would have to hold public hearings on the fare increase within 60 days.