On Aug. 25 Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a bill pushed by the taxi lobby that would have restricted ridesharing services such as UberX and Lyft in Chicago.
The veto is good news for ridesharing consumers and drivers. Uber will now move forward with its plan to bring 425 new jobs to Illinois.
The bill’s champion in the Illinois House, state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, claimed this legislation was all about consumer safety. In fact, it was really about protecting the taxi industry from ridesharing competition.
In addition to imposing some safety requirements, the bill would have restricted rideshare drivers and their cars to just 18 hours per week on the road unless they submitted to additional burdensome restrictions.
That doesn’t make sense from a safety perspective – there’s no reason to believe that drivers and their cars suddenly become less safe in their 19th hour of weekly driving.
The only explanation for the bill’s 18-hour limit was the taxi lobby’s desire to sideline competing vehicles.
That would have hurt consumers, who benefit from the higher quality and lower prices that market competition provides.
It also would have hurt rideshare drivers who have been using their cars to earn a living, who would have been forced to find additional work elsewhere to supplement their incomes. That surely would have proven difficult, given that Illinois ranks dead last in job creation.
As for safety, the city of Chicago – the only place in Illinois where ridesharing companies operate – has already enacted an ordinance that requires the companies to have insurance coverage of $1 million per occurrence, sets standards and requires inspections for ridesharing vehicles, and sets standards and requires background checks and training for drivers.
That ordinance is far from perfect – like the state bill, it contains anticompetitive provisions that serve no apparent purpose except to benefit taxi medallion owners at consumers’ expense – but at least it won’t destroy drivers’ ability to earn a living.
Besides, ridesharing is not the state government’s business. Taxis and other types of vehicles-for-hire are regulated at the local level, and ridesharing should be, too.
The taxi lobby will certainly push the General Assembly to override the veto. But legislators should heed Quinn’s veto message, reject the pleas of a narrow special-interest group, and do what’s right for consumers, drivers and the general public by letting this bad bill stay dead.