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A month’s long process of revising the City of Evanston’s taxicab ordinance to eliminate Evanston regulation and rely instead on State regulation came close to a conclusion at the July 25 City Council meeting. The stated goal of the revisions is to place taxis on a similar regulatory playing field as transportation network providers (TNPs), such as Uber and Lyft. Taxis, however, will continue to have the exclusive right to use taxicab stands.
The proposed revisions, if passsed, would whittle down the current 14-page ordinance to four pages of relative simplicity.
All City-imposed fees have been removed from the proposed revision. Gone are the City inspections. Gone are City chauffer licenses. Gone are the prohibitions against a City taxi soliciting fares in other jurisdictions.
The proposed revision does not replace the jettisoned requirements, but simply steps away from duplicating requirements and inspections already imposed upon taxicabs by the State of Illinois. According to the memo to Council from Corporation Council Grant Farrar, “The City of Evanston currently duplicates State regulations in almost all substantive areas, and this duplication is proposed to be removed.”
Marie Figaro, a taxi-medallion owner, told the Committee said, “The City still requires us to have a car to renew a medallion,” saying she and others were having difficulty finding drivers for taxis and therefore considered not renewing their vehicle’s registration.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, and acting committee chair, responded by agreeing that a medallion required an owner to have a vehicle to place it on. “We can’t get you a driver,” she added. “We’ve done just about as much as any community can to bring taxis up to TNPs.”
Michael Decker, another taxi owner, asked about fingerprinting and medical exams formerly required by Evanston.
“All gone,” said Mr. Farrar.
“I know an Uber driver with one eye,” said Mr. Decker, who then asked if such were permitted.
The State regulates such matters now, said Mr. Farrar. State law controls whether a license is issued, then monitors compliance. The City has stepped away from regulating as much as possible.
One regulation that remains is the protection of City-established taxicab stands. Uber and other TNP drivers are not permitted at such stands. If a taxi driver sees such a cab-stand squatter, “Call the police,” said Ald. Rainey.
“If a TNP operates at a cab stand, they’d be fined,” said Mr. Farrar.
The proposed ordinance was introduced at the City Council meeting and will return for final vote during the August meeting.