Smartphone app causes fury amongst Chicago cab owners

Taxi cab owners in Chicago are in uproar over technology startup Uber.

The Uber app which does away with the traditional means of hailing down a cab from the curb, allowing passengers to directly hail cabs with their smartphones, reduces waiting times and allows fares to be prepaid on credit card.

Drivers utilising the technology are also in favour. Faced with ongoing taxi insurance costs, cabbies claim Uber eliminates payment issues and makes more efficient use of their time instead of hunting down passengers. But the service has been met with opposition from rival cab companies who claim the app isn’t playing by the rules.

Though Uber isn’t the only smartphone app service available, with online technologies becoming more and more widespread within the taxi industry, it’s the only company to offer a town car service in which a luxury vehicle such as a Mercedes can arrive at the speed of a taxi.

Now some of the largest taxi operators including Corrigan and Levine, which includes brands such as Yellow cab and Blue Diamond, and Chicago’s biggest taxi medallion owner, Simon Garber, have teamed up to oppose Uber, pressing for the approval of new regulations that would bring Uber’s town car service to a halt.

Speaking recently, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said, “The technology has made limos viable alternatives to taxis, and the taxi industry is not used to having an alternative. It’s not used to having to compete. It’s used to going to city officials and lobbying them to protect their business and keep competition out. And that has resulted in poor service in most cities across the country.”

Public opinion certainly appears to be on the side of Uber as well, with 6,000 signatures already gathered against the proposals to shut it down.

The decision will now be in the hands of City Hall who will be delicately trying to ensure Uber is following the rules whilst also hoping it flourishes, with the city trying to establish itself as a hub for tech innovation and entrepreneurs.

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