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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Uber and Lyft are threatening to abandon the Chicago market

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
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Tensions between ride-sharing services and Chicago's aldermen are at an all-time high after a daylong hearing on Wednesday in which Uber and Lyft representatives and supporters battled proposed regulations. According to a report by the Sun-Times, an ordinance proposed by Alderman Anthony Beale would "require Uber and Lyft drivers to get restricted chauffeur’s licenses after a one-day class, be fingerprinted by a city-approved vendor and get their vehicles inspected by City Hall."

Though the proposed regulations are meant to bring the ride-sharing industry in line with the established taxi cab industry, Uber and Lyft are viewing the ordinance as a direct threat to their respective businesses. The Sun-Times quotes Uber’s Chicago general manager Marco McCottry as saying, “If this ordinance were to pass, ride-sharing as we know it would no longer exist in Chicago.” A Lyft representative echoed this sentiment at Wednesday's meeting, threatening to abandon the Chicago market if Alderman Beale's ordinance is passed.

If Uber and Lyft end up leaving Chicago, it wouldn't be the first time a major city has been abandoned by the ride-sharing titans. Earlier this month, Uber and Lyft suspended service in Austin, Texas after a city ordinance requiring fingerprint-based background checks for all ride-share drivers was not repealed.

Chicago's taxi cab industry has been struggling to compete with the convenience of Uber and Lyft, in spite of the city's introduction of a universal taxi hailing app. Opponents of Alderman Beale's ordinance argue that ride sharing brings transportation options to parts of the city that are underserved by taxi drivers and that regulating the industry would have an averse effect on those who make their living by driving for Uber and Lyft or depend on the services for daily commutes.

A modified version of Alderman Beale's ride-share licensing ordinance will be put to a City Council vote on June 22. If it passes, you may have to relearn how to hail a cab.

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