Taxi interests win key ruling in suit against city (Chicago)


May 4, 2016, 1:48pm CDT

Chicago’s taxi industry got a boost from a judge’s ruling in a case over whether drivers for app-based car services like Uber and Lyft ought to be licensed.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman denied an attempt by the city of Chicago to dismiss a lawsuit by taxi interests, and at the same time said the city’s attempts to create separate rules for the app-based services and traditional taxis violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantee, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Specifically, the judge wrote, “There is no rational reason to distinguish between types of for-hire car with a pre-arranged pickup made through a smartphone app,” the report said.

Those different rules, allowing Uber and Lyft drivers access to pickups on one level while taxi and limo drivers were directed to a lower, more crowded level, were put in place when the city opened up the airports to the app-based car services, the Sun-Times explained. The city maintains it needs to have those rules to maintain order at those locations.

As the Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune explained, however, Judge Coleman did not order the city to change immediately. Rather, she wrote that even though the city’s rules are a problem, the solution must come from the City Council.

Alderman Anthony Beale has proposed an ordinance, with majority council support, that would apply similar licensing requirements to app-based car service drivers as limo drivers, the Tribune said.

Attorneys are expected back in court Friday, the Tribune added.