Update: The taxi cartel’s attacks on ridesharing in Chicago - Liberty Justice Center

Update: The taxi cartel’s attacks on ridesharing in Chicago

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has backed off a proposal that would have hobbled or destroyed ridesharing services such as uberX and Lyft in Chicago – for now, at least.

And when the taxi lobby turned to the Illinois General Assembly for help, they proposed a ridesharing bill full of provisions that would harm consumers and ridesharing drivers for no reason except to protect cab companies from competition. The team at Illinois Policy Action shared our analysis with state representatives and, as a result, all of the anticompetitive provisions we identified were stripped from the bill, which the House then passed.

So where do things stand now?

The revised bill, House Bill 4075, which the Illinois Senate will now consider, is much better than the original proposal, but it’s still not ideal. Among other things, it would require ridesharing drivers to get chauffeur’s licenses and distinctive license plates, and it would potentially interfere with drivers’ existing insurance contracts. It also leaves the door open for additional regulation by local governments.

The licensing requirements may sound relatively inoffensive, but the bill would only impose them on drivers who work more than 18 hours per week and vehicles that are used for ridesharing more than 18 hours per week. That shows that this bill is still really about protecting taxi companies from competition, not about public safety. After all, if these rules were actually necessary to protect the public’s safety, why wouldn’t the General Assembly impose them on all drivers and cars all the time? Instead, it only imposes its rules on drivers who pose a competitive threat to cab companies.

If this bill passes, consumers will likely pay somewhat higher prices, and some people will be kept out of the ridesharing business. But at least ridesharing will continue in its current form, more or less, in Chicago.

That’s assuming that Chicago’s city government will not add more restrictions of its own, which remains far from certain. As far as we know, a city ordinance is still in the works.

So the best thing that ridesharing fans – and supporters of economic liberty – can do is to keep the pressure on Chicago aldermen and state legislators to keep ridesharing legal.

The side of freedom is mostly winning, but the taxi lobby is not about to surrender; this fight is not over.

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