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Taxi, rideshare drivers unite for City Hall protest seeking regulation

Chicago Rideshare Advocates rally outside City Hall before the start of the monthly Chicago City Council meeting, Wednesday morning, Oct. 31, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Nnamdi Uwazie said that when he began driving taxis about 23 years ago, it was a good job that helped him support a family.

Now, the father of three teenagers said he struggles to provide for his kids, a problem that began when rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft came into the city.

Uwazie was among the taxi drivers who joined forces with rideshare drivers to demand increased regulations on rideshare companies.

Video by Ashlee Rezin | Chicago Rideshare Advocates rally outside City Hall before the start of the monthly Chicago City Council

About 30 activists demonstrated outside City Hall before a City Council meeting Wednesday morning to ask for changes similar to the rideshare rules implemented in New York City over the summer, and specifically a cap on the number of drivers.

“Increased traffic, decreased pay, increased pollution, everything is related to uncapped, unregulated industry,” said Lenny Sanchez, one of the leaders of Chicago Rideshare Advocates.

Lenny Sanchez, co-founder of Chicago Rideshare Advocates, speaks during a rally outside City Hall before the start of the monthly Chicago City Council meeting, Wednesday morning, Oct. 31, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
Lenny Sanchez, co-founder of Chicago Rideshare Advocates, speaks during a rally outside City Hall before the start of the monthly Chicago City Council meeting, Wednesday morning, Oct. 31, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Rideshare Advocates teamed up with Chicago’s taxi drivers union to put on Wednesday’s demonstration. The group previously rallied at O’Hare International Airport.

As protesters chanted slogans such as “Drivers united will never be defeated,” cars passing by, many displaying rideshare symbols, honked in support.

“Cuts to rideshare would eliminate job opportunities for drivers and drastically reduce access to transportation for passengers – particularly those in the South and West sides.” a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement. “The cap imposed in New York City would not solve the challenges the city faces and would be even more harmful in Chicago because of how many drivers earn with Lyft part time.”

An Uber spokesperson sent a statement that read in part, “We believe that residents from every neighborhood deserve open access to fair earning opportunities and affordable transportation and shouldn’t be penalized by an arbitrary vehicle number cap.”

Sanchez said the group was going to keep fighting and bring the issue to city leaders.

“They will decide, are they going vote on the side with the city and its community, or with the investors in San Francisco playing roulette with which color Lamborghini they’re going to order tomorrow,” he said.