Cabbies vow strike as fares set to drop

Chicago taxicab fares are about to drop for the second time in two weeks. But passengers may soon have a more difficult time finding a cab.

The two-tiered surcharge imposed last spring to provide relief to cabbies squeezed by skyrocketing gasoline prices will be lifted entirely at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The Seattle-style surcharge requires passengers to pay an extra 50 cents a ride whenever gas prices "equal or exceed" $2.70 a gallon for seven consecutive days and up to $1 whenever the price tops $3.20 a gallon for one week straight.

The $1 surcharge was cut in half Halloween morning. At 12:01 a.m. Friday, the 50- cent surcharge will be lifted.

Last month, the United Taxidrivers Community Council gave Mayor Daley an ultimatum: Support a 16 percent fare increase that takes effect Jan. 1 or risk a strike that could "paralyze" the city.

City Hall responded by saying a permanent fare hike was in the works for next spring, but no sooner.

On Monday, chairman Fayez Khozindar said his group was forging ahead with the strike and would hold a press conference Nov. 25 to announce a specific date.

"It will be painful for the city. . . . It will be 80 percent effective, I hope," Khozindar said.

Consumer Services Commissioner Norma Reyes said the United Taxidrivers Community Council "does not speak for a majority" of cabbies. And she argued that the group was playing with fire by promoting a strike.

from Sun-Times

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