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Editorial: We were wrong to abandon Chicago’s taxicabs for ride-shares and the city now needs to find a fix

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When Uber and Lyft arrived in Chicago around 2013, we all were seduced by the shiny new thing.

A car would arrive at your digital command in less than five minutes. The driver was likely to be friendlier than the typical exhausted cab driver in a battered vehicle. And, best of all, the ride was subsidized by venture capital and likely to be only four or five bucks for a short hop, far cheaper than a metered cab. You could even get to the airport for less than 30 bucks from most parts of the city.

Chicagoans starting selling their cars, giving up their parking spaces and the city’s brutal parking meter scam, and vowing to henceforth Uber everywhere.

And cabdrivers found themselves in a world of hurt. Many of them are recent immigrants and all are subject to a punishing raft of city regulations.

The tech companies had lobbyists and friends in City Hall. The solo taxi owners and drivers were a fractured group with competing interests and little clout. Most of the entrepreneurial drivers who had borrowed money for a $700,000 City of Chicago medallion found themselves holding a clump of metal that had shrunk to a value of no more than $25,000, devastating their fiscal health. It’s well documented by now that certain speculators manipulated the medallion market at the expense of the driver-owners. Nobody cared much, let alone did much, for the little guys in Chicago.

Now, we’re all paying the price.

Thanks to a shortage of drivers, that cramped Uber ride to O’Hare might........

© Chicago Tribune

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