Attorney Howard Ankin has lent his support to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed ordinance to regulate Chicago’s ride-sharing services in the same way that taxis are regulated. Mr. Ankin said that he agrees with Mayor Emanuel’s assessment that ride-sharing services have operated in a “regulatory vacuum” and he worries that the vacuum could expose passengers to increased personal injury risk.
Ride-sharing services such as UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar allow drivers to use their personal vehicles to transport passengers in exchange for a negotiated fee. Passengers can order the services on their computer or smartphone.
Mayor Emanuel’s ordinance would classify the ride-sharing services as “transportation network providers,” which is the same classification that taxi companies fall into. That means that the ride-sharing services would have to pay numerous new fees and taxes, including a $25,000 annual fee, a $25 per driver fee, and a $3.50 per day per vehicle ground transportation tax.
However, the part of the ordinance that Mr. Ankin finds critical is the enhanced safety requirements. Ride-sharing services would be forced to perform regular background checks on drivers, administer drug tests, and ensure that all vehicles pass a 21-point inspection.
The ordinance also requires ride-sharing services to provide a minimum $1 million per occurrence liability and commercial vehicle insurance policy on each driver. Mr. Ankin says that under current regulations, drivers may only have their personal insurance. That insurance may not cover commercial uses, which could leave passengers vulnerable in the event of a serious accident.
Mr. Ankin said that he can appreciate that ride-sharing services offer exciting alternative transportation solutions. He particularly likes the fact that rates can be negotiated with a ride-sharing service and that pickups can be scheduled easily on a smartphone. However, he said he has seen far too many serious personal injuries arise from accidents caused by Chicago taxis. Without the taxi company’s insurance policy, many of those injured victims would have been left without any compensation. He is hopeful that the ordinance passes so that passengers of ride-sharing services have the same protection.