Sparta Report

Chicago’s Taxi Industry May Be Near Total Collapse

The main culprit is Uber. The other culprits are corrupt Chicago politicians who would rather kill the taxi industry than lift regulations to allow them to compete with Uber:

In addition to repaying loans on their medallions, taxi operators also have to pay thousands of dollars each year in city expenses, like the ground transportation tax and medallion license renewal fee—expenses that rideshare drivers are not subject to. (Cab Drivers United/ Twitter)

Ghana-born John Aikins has been a cab driver in Chicago for two decades. About 15 years ago, he decided to go into business for himself by taking out a loan with his wife to purchase a medallion—a city-issued license to operate a taxi—for $70,000. Paying it off within a few years thanks to a steady stream of passengers, they took out loan for a second medallion five years ago, using the first as collateral. Watching his medallions appreciate in value over the years, Aikins planned to eventually sell or lease them to other drivers, a common practice in the industry. “I hoped it would be my retirement investment, and I had planned to retire this year,” Aikins told In These Times.

But with the introduction of Uber and other rideshare companies to the city—which can operate without the expensive, city-issued medallions—Aikins has seen his clientele plummet over the past three years, making it increasingly hard to keep up with his medallion loan payments.

Aikins says he doesn’t fault the rideshare industry for his current predicament, but instead blames the city.

“We are so saddled with rules and taxes and renewal fees, and the city hasn’t done anything to relieve us,” he said. “It looks like they are just waiting for us to die off.”

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