Chicago Alderman's Plan On City Budget Crisis: Let's Just Charge Uber And Lyft More To Fix It

from the that's-not-a-plan dept

Big city budgets are hellaciously complicated affairs. That much is obvious, but the actual level of management of a budget likely goes far beyond what the average member of the public realizes. Even with that stipulated, the city of Chicago’s budget is an absolute mess. Budget shortfalls abound for any number of reasons, ranging from bloated payrolls, to pet projects that have missed the mark on cost projections, to a shortage of income related to police and parking activity from our infamous redlight cameras and our equally infamous privatization of parking meters. Anyone looking to solve this budget crisis is likely to begin pulling their hair out immediately, wondering where to even begin.

Except for Alderman Anthony Beale, longtime stooge for the taxi industry, who has suggested an easy fix: just go crazy in taxing the hell out of innovative ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Beale, who chairs the City Council Transportation Committee, said he hopes Emanuel will revisit the idea of higher fees and tougher regulations on the burgeoning ride share industry as part of budget talks for 2018. He said the move would help even the playing field for cab drivers finding it increasingly difficult to compete. Beale wanted a per-ride charge of $1 on ride share companies as part of Emanuel’s 2016 budget. Instead, Emanuel raised the charge from 30 cents to 52 cents per ride.

“We should have went for the dollar and we negotiated down to the 50-cent (fee),” Beale said Wednesday. “Now here we are again, going for the dollar. And so, I think we could have been much further along if we had just stuck to our guns and gone for the dollar a couple years ago.”

Chicago has been a battleground of sorts in this fight between taxis and ride-sharing services. The per-ride fee instituted in 2016 came on the heels of a city-wide protest by taxis in 2015, where cabs refused to pick up fares in the downtown area and instead just honked their horns a bunch while those of us that work down here tried to actually do our jobs. The protest was designed not so much to rally public support to their side, as the public’s voting with their wallets is what got us here in the first place. Rather, it was designed simply to be a pain in the city’s ass enough for city officials to write in higher per-ride fees into its licensing legal framework.

And to that extent, it worked. The fee went up by a third or so. For Beale to lament the lack of a 300% increase in fees and, more fallaciously, to frame the desire for that increase as a budget solution when it is nothing of the sort, is fairly laughable. The real reason for Beale’s angst is that he is the errand boy of Chicago’s taxi companies, plain and simple. This is pure entrenched player protectionism and regulatory capture in reverse, with taxi companies looking to regulate more innovative and useful companies to death, or at least into some sort of insane fairness coma.

That isn’t how government is supposed to be done, but it sure is the Chicago way.

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Companies: lyft, uber

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Comments on “Chicago Alderman's Plan On City Budget Crisis: Let's Just Charge Uber And Lyft More To Fix It”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Chicago Alderman’s Plan On City Budget Crisis: Let’s Just Charge Uber And Lyft More To Fix It

Which really means lets turn them into tax collectors, collecting tax from the people who use their services. Any company that wishes to remain in business simply passes such taxes onto their customers, with a little extra to cover their book keeping expenses, plus a little more for profit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Local government backed monopolies

Taxi companies are local government backed monopolies and they are suffering from innovation. They can’t keep raising their rates year over year if people have a viable alternative. Instead of innovating themselves, they are trying to pass more onerous laws to make their competition suffer. This will never lead to traditional taxis having a comeback. It will only quicken the change to fully automated cars with no drivers involved in any part of the ride. They are killing off the golden goose to spite their own face.

Anonymous Coward says:

Uber's sole advantage is subsidized by "venture capitalists",

hoping to establish a monopoly. The “free money” created out of thin air by Federal Reserve printing a trillion per year, dodging laws and responsibility, and lying that employees are “contractors” are its “business model”.

Undercutting prices isn’t a new idea, kids, and it used to prosecuted as unfair competition. It’s solely the current bought and paid for crony capitalism that allows Uber to exist at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Uber's sole advantage is subsidized by "venture capitalists",

“Uber lost $2.8 billion last year – Apr. 14, 2017 – CNN Money”

I guess Geigner believes that enough time has passed that Uber’s corporate culture of sexual harassment, and Kalanick’s explosive anger when a driver complained have been forgotten.

The worst that this tax could do is partly balance Uber’s crime of unfair competition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Normal Leftish Government

“That isn’t how government is supposed to be done, but it sure is the Chicago way.”

It’s also the California way, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Washington DC and Venezuela way. Destructive, outrageous tax & spend government occurs wherever leftists are in charge.

Chicago is one of the worst cases in America but it’s long been in a fiscal death spiral after 86 years of Democratic Control.

US Congressmen think just like Chicago Alderman, but Feds can print all the money they want. Chicago has hiked every tax and fee it can think of — but it’s never enough.
The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money to spend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Normal Leftish Government

“The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money to spend.”

The trouble with your analogy is that is just simply is not applicable. The political system in place in the city of Chicago is not socialism – but you knew that.

Now, why does a big city need all that money? Did you mention all those bribes that the captains of industry need because they just might move their business out of the city …. or that pet project some big wig wants … or any of those other non-socialism related expenditures – yeah, didn’t think so

jcwconsult (profile) says:

Taxing sources of economic growth

This is just another insane proposal to tax the commuters and visitors that come to Chicago bringing needed economic activity to make Chicago successful. Make it too onerous to come to Chicago to work or shop and those people will simply take their employment and shopping to other places that aren’t trying to rob their wallets so viciously.

James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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