City caps fees, but cab companies still charge more

SHARE City caps fees, but cab companies still charge more

Cabdrivers can’t raise their fares unless City Hall gives its OK.

And cab companies can’t raise the lease rates they charge cabbies unless City Hall holds a public hearing.

But the cab companies still charge drivers as much as 20 percent more than the “lease-cap” rates that City Hall has had in place since 1994. They do it by using “add-ons.”

The lease-cap rate is $473 a week, according to Norma Reyes, Mayor Daley’s commissioner of business affairs and consumer protection. City ordinances require her to set that rate — which covers such things as insurance, maintenance and radio dispatching. She has to hold a public hearing before changing it.

But many drivers actually pay more — as much as $575 a week — to lease cabs from Chicago Carriage Cab Co., Yellow Cab and other companies, the Sun-Times found by examining the leases of cabdrivers at O’Hare Airport.

How do cabbies end up having to pay rates above the cap she set? Reyes says cab companies can actually charge up to $593.15 a week — more than $100 over the lease-cap rate — by tacking on extra fees to cover workers compensation, supplemental insurance, late charges, new-cab charges and a collision-damage waiver.

But the city has caps on each of those add-ons, including a weekly limit of $25 for the collision-damage waiver, according to Reyes’ spokeswoman Efrat Dallal Stein.

Then, told that drivers are paying as much as $69.50 a week for a collision-damage waiver, a type of insurance, Stein corrected herself, saying the city doesn’t cap fees for collision-damage waivers.

Then there’s taxicab advertising. The city began allowing that in 2006. Drivers with ads on their cabs are supposed to get 35 percent of the advertising revenue in the form of lower lease rates. But the Sun-Times found that Chicago Carriage Cab hasn’t given some drivers credit for the ads on their cabs.

“If there are cabs out there that have advertising and they’re not sharing [with the drivers], then they’re violating the ordinance,” says Reyes, “and I need to know so I can prosecute the owners.”

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