In Part 1 I wrote about my experience in Tinley Park at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater. A place and a town I have been in many times without incident.
Before I go into details of the laws and the overreach, I wanted to tell you about other regulated cities and a disclaimer.
Chicago is a heavily regulated city for taxis and limos. They are a city that even has a shield program. A shield is something some cities enact to limit the number of taxis operating in a city. The reason for this is to ease the burden on traffic and infrastructure. Operating a taxi in Chicago and obtaining a chauffeur's license in Chicago is much more expensive than surrounding suburbs. Those companies that operate legally there potentially lose money when we enter their city limits. We are allowed to drop off in the city of Chicago. We are allowed to do pre arranged round trips in the city of chicago. When we do that we are not allowed to flag there and we have to pay a tax when we enter the city limits. This applies regardless of the vehicle having Taxi, Livery or PT plates. It is a small price to pay to pick up in the airports and keep things fair to the local companies and drivers who have invested time and money to operate there. Further, when you pick up at the airports in Chicago, the tax goes to things like tourism and airport infrastructure maintenance. Not a bad cause and when you consider the sheer volume of taxis and limos picking up at the airports, that is a huge burden liften from residents and businesses. I am okay with this tax and respect the rules.
In smaller cities like Joliet. A non Joliet based taxi or limo company can enter the city limits and perform pre arranged pick ups, drop off in our city, etc. What they cannot do is pick up a flag unless they invest in a sticker giving them permission to do so.
Now. The days following my nightmare in Tinley Park. I talked to other drivers from not only my cab company but other drivers I know from other taxi companies. They have all had nightmares lately. I did some research and found out Tinley got negative press in several media outlets in 2010 because a woman was overcharged by a taxi going from the amphitheater to a hotel. They reacted swiftly to the negative press by swiftly enacting laws that seemed to have been employed without much research into the industry or a comprehensive understanding of the problem. They seemed to have used a guillotine to treat a headache. In 2011 they already started getting negative press on these new laws. While they warded off the gypsy cabs gouging passengers illegally, many legitimate companies have stopped operating there making it difficult to pick up a taxi or limo. Further, the security measures employed have contributed to traffic nightmares and excessive waiting times warding many companies and contractors away. The response by representatives of village to this negative press was lackluster and lacked the same concern as the original negative story they received.
The most catastrophic aspect of this law and the affect of lack of transportation options is that people who are drinking may be more likely to drive impaired.
Before I go into specifics of their law. Let me tell you what I would have to do to be in compliance of the law to have permission to drop off, pick up and even drive through their city limits (as per the representative in the City Clerks Office I was told the definition of operating a taxi meant anytime I had a paying a passenger in my taxi within their city limits, even if I am passing through and not stopping there, I am operating within their city limits.
Now. The company I am contracted with would have to get a business license for Tinely Park. Effectively making the entire operation under their complete authority. Secondly, the company would have to agree to the rates of Tinley Park for all operations regardless of their situs. The law states specifically the rate structure and this is the rate structure that is displayed and used at all times and subject to audit. This rate, by the way, is BELOW industry standard in this area making it harder for a taxi driver to make a livable wage and harder for a company to make ends meet on already narrow margins. Further, the company would have to have the vehicle inspected at their expense by Tinley's assigned and designated private mechanic auto shops even though we already have the vehicles IDOT (state government-Illinois Dept of Transportation) inspected. Then they would have to pay another fee to have the sticker.
Now for the driver. I would have to go to Tinley Park and pay them a fee to have my criminal background checked and fingerprinted....again. I would have to present a clean motor vehicle report at my own expense...again. I would also have to pay another processing fee and receive another chauffeur's license.
My company would have to incur hundred of dollars per vehicle with duplicated efforts and I would have to spend more then a hundred dollars annually and spend almost an entire day of my life annually in not one, but two cities.
Understand. I do NOT have to do this in Chicago. I do NOT have to do this in ay other city or municipality. In other cities there are things I am not allowed to do. In other cities there are sometimes taxes I have to pay when I drop off or pick up in their municipality, but nothing like this.
I recently had the privilege to talk with taxi drivers in Washington DC, Maryland and Pennsylvania. They deal with regulations in heavily regulated locations like Baltimore, Harrisburg, Washington DC and Manhatten and none of them. NONE of them have ever heard of anything like this. When I showed the documentation of the regulations, some of them got infuriated.
Some of the other drivers I know in the area have not only had experiences similar to mine, but they have even been profiled with PD going on the radio to tell other officers to be on the lookout for them and their vehicles.
Additionally, when I told the City Clerk's office my story to learn what I would need to be in compliance, the woman told me that I should have been fined and the officer in her opinion failed in his duty. I told her the reason he did not was because my dispatcher and operations manager educated the PD in the law.
So yeah. I won't even pass through their precious city. The risk is too high. The hassle is not worth it. I do not like being threatened. Officers with hands on their hips upset my digestion.
My disclaimer. I am not a lawyer. I do know this though. If I were to comply with Tinley. It would put me in conflict with the pricing structure on file that I adhere to in the City of Joliet and put me in a position of price dumping.
One last thing. The law is allegedly to prevent price gouging. In their law if you are traveling more than 25 miles outside of the city limits, the fee goes to meter and a half. Even with my out of radius pick up fee to go to Tinley, the fare is more expensive to residents of the western half of Joliet to use a Tinley Park compliant taxi service on a round trip.
So long story short. I will not go to Tinley Park on a professional level. I will not go through Tinley Park on a professional level. I will not go to Tinley Park on a personal level or shopping or entertainment either. There are wonderful venues in Joliet and the City of Chicago for dining, entertainment and shopping. I do not need them. With my involvement with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. With my love and passion for this industry. With my appreciation for my own safety and well being. I do not need them. Neither does my digestion.