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Cab drivers plan second ‘strike’ for Monday morning

Updated: July 6, 2012 3:44PM



An advocacy group representing some city cab drivers is calling for a five-hour strike Monday morning -- the second such action this month in a fight for higher fares.

The United Taxi Drivers Community Council said thousands of cab drivers went on strike from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. July 2 to highlight their frustration with new regulations that raised the rates drivers pay to lease vehicles without allowing a fare increase to offset the expenses.

On Friday, the UTCC announced a second action, which they call “Strike 2,” will begin at 6 a.m. Monday and last until 11 a.m.

However, Mayor Rahm Emanuel believes its premature to talk about a fare increase until the industry has safer drivers and better vehicles, according to Jen Lipford, spokeswoman with the city’s Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection.

After the first strike, city officials said cab riders saw no disruption in services and disagreed with the claims that thousands of cabs were idled.

At issue is the lease-rate system, which mandates drivers pay between $595 to $707 to rent a cab for a week -- with costlier rates applying to newer, more-fuel-efficient cars. The new rates went into effect July 1.

On less-fuel-efficent cabs, the rate only went up $2, the first increase since 1998.

Chicago cab fares have been frozen since an 11.7 percent increase imposed by the City Council in 2005.

“We want fare rates increased 22 percent,” cab driver spokesman Michael McConnell said. “There hasn’t been a fare increase since 2005, and with cost of living, gas having gone up ... and now these lease increases are the straw that broke the camels back,” he said.

In January, the city made its on-again-off-again $1 fuel surcharge permanent and part of the cost of entering a cab. Rosemary Krimbel, commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, warned at the time that the new $3.25 flag pull “does not necessarily give the drivers a fare increase.”

That change was not enough to appease many cabbies, who claim the money doesn’t help them financially and goes to gas stations.

City Council Transportation Committee Chairman Anthony Beale vowed to hold a hearing this summer on the drivers’ petition for a 22 percent fare hike. But the drivers say a hearing alone will not be enough.



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