Uber was launched in Chicago in 2011 while Lyft was introduced two years later. It’s been more or less a decade since these two rideshare services have considerably improved the transport situation in the city by helping the people of Chicago get around. It has also provided a lot of new jobs for Chicago locals who have grabbed this opportunity for additional earnings.
The beginning was great, with passengers being able to travel faster and with more convenience, and drivers making a decent income. However, over the years, both rideshare companies have implemented a number of changes that are rather unfavorable for the drivers.
The Chicago Rideshare Advocates
Barbara Lloyd, one of the pioneer Lyft drivers in the city, says that the two Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) have made it progressively impossible for an honest driver to make a decent living with this job. She says that at the onset, an Uber or Lyft driver can drive passengers around for just a couple of hours a day and make some extra dollars to bring to the table. But now, you would have to work the road for at least 80 hours a week before you can make real money.
Barb attributes this problem to the relentless rate cuts that the companies have started to enforce since a few years back. Plus, both Uber and Lyft have also made some major changes to their system that now make it really difficult for drivers to earn a living.
After experiencing first-hand the injustices that Uber and Lyft drivers have had to take from the rideshare industry, Barb has decided to co-found the Chicago Rideshare Advocates group, which is now very active in fighting for the rights of Uber and Lyft drivers in the city of Chicago. Among the initiatives of the group that aim to solve the growing predicament of drivers are the following:
Increase in Base Fare and Per-Mile Rate
In their efforts to continue offering lower rates than their competitors, rideshare companies have been charging passengers the same amount per mile and per minute, but reducing driver pay rates. This is a clear injustice to drivers that the group wants to change as soon as possible.
Return to the Original Surge Model
TNCs have recently updated the rideshare apps with a new surge model. It charges passengers a higher surge rate but none of this additional money is passed over to the drivers. They are getting the same base rate and a small bonus, which is hardly fair.
Rideshare Driver Cap
There are just too many drivers working the streets of Chicago and many of them are even from out of state. Drivers from low-population cities are flocking over to Chicago so that they can meet their quota. This is certainly not good for the local drivers and it drastically disrupts the balance of supply and demand in the city.
City Inspections of Rideshare Vehicles
The group strongly feels that there is a need for more stringent measures on ensuring the safety of both drivers and passengers. The existing inspection system is simply too lax. According to Barb Lloyd, her last inspection took just 90 seconds and the guy just took a cursory look at the car.
The People’s Lobby
One of the founding members of the Chicago Rideshare Advocate, Lori Simmons, used to be a rideshare driver in Chicago. And just like Barbara Lloyd, she had also personally witnessed the injustices that Uber and Lyft drivers have had to go through over the years.
Simmons is extremely passionate about fighting for the rights of drivers and it is because of this that in 2020, she eventually became one of the more active members of the People’s Lobby. In fact, she is now the primary driving force behind the Chicago Gig Alliance, which is a significant part of the People’s Lobby that organizes gig workers.
With Simmons at its helm, the group has contributed greatly to the effort towards fighting to dismantle the exploitation that has been going on in the rideshare industry for some time now.
Chicago Rideshare Living Wage and Safety Ordinance
On Feb 23rd of this year, Alderman Roderick Sawyer of Chicago’s 6th Ward put forward a bill that aims to address the increasingly troubling situation that drivers have had to deal with in the past years. The main purposes of this bill are to create safety standards for both drivers and passengers, establish a living wage for drivers, and ensure that the rideshare industry in Chicago provides decent working conditions.
One of the specific changes that the bill proposes is to raise driver pay rates from $0.60 /mile to $1.20/mile and from $0.20/minute to $0.30/minute for all regular rides via Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services. It further proposes an annual increase in these rates in accordance with the Consumer Pricing Index.
The bill also recommends that a cap of 20% be imposed on the cut that rideshare companies claim from fares. There is no such cap being implemented as of today and some drivers have reportedly been deducted as much as 60% of their fare.
If approved, Sawyer’s bill will also implement a $5 minimum per ride, pay a 150% surge on regular rides, and bring about a number of other changes that will be extremely helpful for Uber and Lyft drivers and finally address the concerns that they have had for years.
Legal Assistance for Uber & Lyft Drivers and Partners
If you are an Uber or Lyft driver or partner in Chicago and you feel that your rights are being stepped on, we are here to help. Here at Uber & Lyft Lawyers, we have attorneys and legal counselors that are very well-versed in the ridesharing laws in Chicago and all their intricacies, and we will make sure that no company will overstep their boundaries in the treatment of any Uber or Lyft driver and partner.
Even if you are unsure of how to proceed with your issue, it’s not a problem because that is what we are here for. Call us today for a free consultation. Our priority is to give you the best legal representation as a partner/driver in the rideshare industry. No matter how unjust the system might be, you can be sure that we are ready to put up a fight.