City pulls 60 unsafe cabs off streets

April 9, 2010 4:37:44 AM PDT
The City of Chicago has pulled dozens of cabs off the streets in a crackdown on taxi companies using salvaged cars.

The city's Department of Consumer Protection says many of the taxis have been in collisions that have caused major damage. It is unclear how long many of the vehicles have been on the streets but city officials believe they posed a major threat to safety.

Thousands of cabs roam the streets of Chicago carrying passengers to their destinations. The city has inspected and licensed the vehicles before they hit the streets. But the consumer protection department has apparently determined that some are not as they appear. In fact, in a number of cases insurance companies have already determined the vehicles to be a total loss.

"I've heard the cabs weren't up to the standard and there was something wrong with the cabs in the city and the city pulled the medallions," said Steve Wiedersberg, head, Chicago Taxi Drivers Association.

Most of what Wiedersberg has heard is from other drivers. But city officials confirm they have removed cars from the street because they have discovered the vehicles were salvaged after suffering major damage.

The Department of Consumer Protection has scheduled a news conference for Friday morning to announce they have taken more than 60 cabs out of service after discovering the salvage titles, many of which were reportedly from out of state which made them hard to detect for city officials. ABC7 has learned the cabs were pulled from a number of companies in the city.

"Yesterday, I came, there was no cab, they told me a lot of cabs had been taken off the street," said Sohail Babar, cab driver.

Some drivers say if there was anything wrong with the vehicles, the city should have known.

"It's strange. They pass inspection but then they are snatching the cars back," said Wiedersberg.

According to Carfax, a salvage title on a car indicates the vehicle was damaged to more than 75 percent of the cost of repairing it. The vehicles are often sold to rebuilders or recyclers who often use them for parts. It is against city regulations for these vehicles to be used as taxis.