10/25/2011 12:00 pm ET | Updated Dec 25, 2011

Chicago Taxicab Fare Hike On The Horizon, Consumer Protection Commissioner Says

The commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection has begun the first overhaul to taxicab regulation in Chicago in nearly 20 years, with proposed changes that include new meter technology and a fare hike.

Commissioner Rosemary Krimbel wants to streamline fuel surcharges and other pricing fluctuations based on destination and number of passengers, which are unpredictable and can confuse customers, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. She's proposing a single higher flag pull price, which would provide an income raise that cabbies have been waiting six years to receive. Chicago's taxicab fares are the fourth lowest among major cities, Krimbel says.

The commissioner anticipates that this fare increase, paired with adjustments in lease pricing, could help drivers invest in better-quality vehicles, according to the Sun-Times. Last year more than 400 cabs, nearly six percent of the city's 6,800 fleet, were pulled from the street, found to be operating salvaged or rebuilt vehicles which are illegal to use as taxicabs. Taxicab companies paid a $1 million settlement to the city for the infractions, the Sun-Times reports.

Krimbelwould also add a $1 surcharge that would go directly to the city to help avoid cuts proposed in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new budget, ABC Chicago reports. The anticipated $70 million revenue would be invested in new meters that calculate price more consistently, and bumper stickers on all taxicabs advising motorists to report unsafe driving by calling 311.

"Meters click faster when you're moving than when you're standing, which means it's much more profitable for a cabdriver to ... change lanes constantly, rather than to sit there at the light or wait for the light," Krimble said, according to the Sun-Times. "We need to change that incentive."

Flickr photo by Yinghai.