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Chicago Dispatcher

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Join date : 2008-01-10

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PostSubject: New Rules Proposal   New Rules Proposal Icon_minitime1/21/2008, 3:08 pm

From The Chicago Dispatcher, January 2008

New Rules Proposal
City releases proposed amendments to Rules and Regulations for Public Chauffeurs
by Jonathan Bullington

As cabbies struggle to organize and push for increased revenue, the Department of Consumer Services released proposed amendments to the Rules and Regulations for Public Chauffeurs on December 14. Concerned drivers scrambled to secure copies of the proposed amendments, made available at DCS offices or on DCS’ Web site, in time to review and submit comments during the city’s public comment window, ending New Year’s Eve at 5:00 p.m. A date for release of the finalized rules has yet to be determined.

For those drivers who haven’t seen the proposed amendments or who had trouble acquiring their own copy (as several drivers reported), here are some of the main amendment proposals.

Increased Fines
In the past, the rules offered three different classifications for offenses based on their perceived severity – major offenses, serious offenses and minor offenses, each with its own penalties. Reckless driving, for example, was considered a major offense. Penalties for a major offense were as follows: First offense - $25 to $200 fine and/or verbal warning or suspension up to five days; Repeated offense - $50 to $750 fine and/or suspension for seven to 29 days; Aggravated offense – revocation, or suspension for seven to 29 days and/or $50 to $750 fine. Serious offenses, like discourtesy or failure to issue receipt, carried fines of $15 to $50 for a first offense and $50 to $100 for an aggravated offense, with a maximum suspension of 10 days for the latter. Minor offenses, such as loitering or improper attire, carried fines of $15 to $30 for a first offense and $30 to $50 for an aggravated offense, with a maximum suspension of five days for the latter.

The new rules propose an elimination of this classification system. Instead, they make only one distinction: First offense - $75 to $750 fine and/or license suspension up to five days and/or revocation of chauffeur license. Repeated and/or aggravated offense - $200 to $750 fine and/or license suspension up to 29 days and/or revocation of chauffeur license. So a driver cited for improper attire, once faced with a maximum penalty of a $50 fine and a five-day suspension, now could be fined $750 and have his or her license revoked under the proposed rules.

License Applications and Renewals
Changes to the license application and renewal process have been proposed. In the past, drivers found guilty of one moving violation in 12 months would have to attend an eight-hour safe-driving course before applying for or renewing their licenses. The proposed amendments still require the safe-driving class for one moving violation, but reduce the length of the class to four hours. However, a driver found guilty of more than one moving violation in 12 months would still have to attend an eight-hour class.

Proposed rule 3.10 (c) gives drivers another opportunity to avoid class time. In the past, drivers were required to take a continuing education class before renewing their licenses. With this proposed amendment, a driver can be exempt from this requirement if that driver is “without a violation on his record for a period of not less than five years before his renewal date…”

While these two proposals seem to loosen restrictions on drivers, proposed rule 3.05 does the opposite. It states as follows: “At the discretion of the Commissioner, an applicant may be denied renewal of the applicants Chauffeur license if the applicant has within the twelve months preceding his renewal application date received three (3) or more complaints and/or citations of abusive behavior and/or unsafe driving which demonstrate the applicant’s inability to comply with these Rules, the Municipal Code of Chicago, and the Taxicab Medallion License Holders Rules and Regulations.”

Airport Operations
Drivers, particularly those of the Muslim faith, who frequent O’Hare airport’s taxi-staging area, have been faced with a dilemma regarding the “Multi-use rest shelters,” located at the southwest corner of the lot. Many Muslim drivers who use the shelters for prayer leave their cabs unattended while doing so, only to return and find their cabs have been ticketed for parking violations. While they have made efforts to work with the city to solve this problem, the city has proposed rule 13.03 (e), which states, “Cabs left unattended in “no parking” zone within the staging area or immediately outside of staging area will be ticketed and towed.”

Sticking with the staging areas, the old rule was that drivers whose cabs were in the front line had to remain “in close proximity to their vehicles to avoid delay in dispatching.” The proposed rule offers tighter restrictions, stating that no driver whose cab is in the two lines closest to the moving lane can be farther than 10 feet from his or her cab.

One other proposed rule change of note regarding airports – owner/operators who do not accept credit cards as payment will no longer be allowed to pick up passengers at Chicago’s airports.

Other Significant Rule Changes
–Proposed rule 1.02 states that new applicants for a chauffeur’s license must not be delinquent in child-support payments.
–Proposed rule 4.01 caps the maximum hours of instruction for a public chauffeur training course, but removes guidelines for how much a training course provider can charge.
–Underserved areas have been expanded to include Gate 30 of McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center and, only on Sundays, all of McCormick Place, including the hotel.
–Proposed rule 5.09 (e) states that a driver is not allowed to talk on his or her cell phone while operating a cab, eliminating the old exemption for emergency situations.
–Proposed rule 10.02 states that a lessee shall be the only driver of a leased vehicle during the time of the lease, which has not changed from the original rules, but classifies a violation of this rule as an aggravated offense, one which “…shall be cause for revocation of the lessee’s Public Chauffeur License.”
–Proposed rule 15.01 states that all chauffeurs must be certified and participate in TAP.

Driver Reactions
Many drivers reacted with disapproval over these proposed rule changes, especially given their frustrations with what they see as the city’s inability to recognize the need for a fare increase or gas surcharge. Roughly 1,000 letters protesting the new rules have been sent to DCS; 600 of those letters were collected by the newly formed Association of Unified Professional Drivers (AUPD) and hand-delivered to the Commissioner’s Daley Center office in a small rally on Christmas Eve. The AUPD also distributed a letter to those concerned about the taxi industry detailing their objections to several rules, including many of those previously listed. The group’s letter states, in part, the following:
“It is our determination that the implementation of these amendments, with their increased fines and penalties, have the potential to destroy the taxicab industry as we know it here in Chicago, and drive many hardworking members of the transportation industry, already besieged and beleaguered by the existing city fines and practices, into financial ruin, if not completely out of the industry.”

In a show of solidarity, Mike Foulks, president of the Chicago Cabdriver Organization (CCO), expressed his disapproval of the proposed rules while applauding the efforts of the AUPD.

“I think it’s strange that the city is asking for more money in fines while cabdrivers can’t get a fare increase,” Foulks said. “There have been rumors we shouldn’t ask for a fare increase because the rules could change. Now we see the rules can change at anytime, with or without a fare increase.”

Veteran cabdriver Ted Budzynski, whose efforts helped spur the reduction in class time for continuing education and safe driving, could muster little in the way of satisfaction after reviewing the proposed rules.

“They could have done a lot better,” Budzynski said of the changes. “There are still eight-hour classes involved.” He particularly expressed his concern over the city proposal for increased fines.

“What makes the city think [drivers] make all this money to afford $750?”
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