Aldermen propose $1 cab surcharge

November 17, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The extra dollar would come on the flag pull, and Aldermen Ed Burke and Carrie Austin estimate it would raise $70 million a year. But that money would not go to cabbies. The city would get it to help with its budget problems.

The aldermen argue that Chicago fares are lower than other major cities. They claim most of the money would be paid by out-of-towners, not by Chicagoans.

"I'm just throwing this out as a suggestion. It's one way we can get in pretty substantial amount of money without a great deal of pain," said Alderman Ed Burke.

Cabbies, however, say they have been asking the City Council for a rate increase for the last five years. A surcharge would effectively raise their prices with no benefit for them.

"Taxi drivers are not ATMs for the city. We are not tax collectors," said Fayez Khazindar, United Taxidrivers Community Council.

"To help alleviate a budget crisis? I can't say anything more than preposterous," said George Kasp, taxi driver

"Their argument in this proposal is passengers pay so little we can afford to raise their fares but to the benefit of the city and to the total exclusion of cab drivers," said George Lutfallah, publisher, Chicago Dispatcher.

Mayor Daley, who saw the City Council approve his budget for next year Wednesday, says the surcharge could be a good source of new revenue.

"People look for revenue. Like anything else, the city needs revenue. You have to look at all avenues of revenue," said Mayor Daley

Alderman Burke says he believes the surcharge is a painless way to raise revenue. The proposal has to pass the City council finance committee chaired by Burke.

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