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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

City Council committee gives Uber, Lyft the green light for airport pickups

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On Monday, Uber and Lyft cleared a major hurdle in their battle to allow ride-sharing services to pick up passengers at O'Hare and Midway airports. A measure that would allow drivers from the services to pick up passengers at Chicago's airports without a chauffeur's license was approved by the City Council's Finance Committee and will head to the full council for a vote on Wednesday.

The decision came less than a week after Uber launched a rare ad campaign imploring Chicagoans to petition their aldermen to support the proposal. The current plan would require riders to pay a $5 fee for being picked up or dropped off at either O'Hare or Midway, which would generate an additional $20 million in revenue for the city, according to Uber spokesperson Brooke Anderson.

The approval from the committee came much to the chagrin of Chicago's taxi companies, who have protested and lobbied against Uber's expansion in the city since the company first launched in Chicago in 2011. They contend that drivers from ride-sharing services should be forced to apply for expensive chauffeur's licenses, and that a lack of regulation on companies like Lyft and Uber will all but put cabs out of business in Chicago.

But don't RSVP to the taxi cab pity party too quickly. As Uber has pointed out in its recent campaign, ride-sharing services have given some of Chicago's most underserved communities access to transportation. The new measure could also help alleviate the lengthy and painful taxi lines that build up during peak hours at O'Hare and Midway.

Either way, City Council will almost certainly approve the committee's decision on Wednesday, so it shouldn't be long before you can start ordering a ride from your phone after landing in either of the city's airports.  

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