ADMITTEDLY, MOST OF our neighbors do not find themselves availing the service of a taxicab very often. On those very rare occasions when we do, it is as a mode of transportation to or from the venue of one's catching an airliner. This may be a very short taxi ride to our local airport, Midway or a somewhat longer journey up to O'Hare Field. Recently it has come to our attention of how our citizens can be subjected to rude, dangerous and even criminal behavior by a small minority of unscrupulous and unruly cabbies. Southwest side neighbors in Clearing and Garfield Ridge have related their horror stories to us, all concerning Taxicab abuses and trips to or from the airports.
ONE CLEARING FAMILY was subjected to verbal abuse and physical threats because the cab driver did not want to take a short run from Midway to the nearby destination, near 63rd & Narragansett. When the cabbie finally did render his service very reluctantly, he sped off (peeling rubber) when he dropped the family at their home. In our own personal story, a taxi driver attempted to collect a double fare from this writer by insisting our home (52nd and Natoma) was in another municipality other than the City; insisting that Chicago's western boundary was Austin Avenue at that point.
REPORTS FROM SOME contacts we have in the Police Department's Traffic Division/Public Vehicle Enforcement unit told us of incidents where taxi operators left O'Hare Field with passengers, stopped on the Kennedy Expressway, threw their baggage on the shoulder and left the people on the roadside. This is said to have occurred several times in an effort to avoid the "dreaded" short haul run.
JUST A LITTLE education in the subject of the Public Vehicle laws and operational rules can and would eliminate the further occurrence of such incidents. First of all, let's debunk a couple of bits of bogus info that continue to circulate. First, as a prospective taxicab paying rider, one is entitled to any cab that is sitting in a line; not as you may hear only the first one. Secondly. a cabbie must accept a fare regardless of one's destination.
THE BEST PROTECTION against abuse by the criminal element who masquerade as legitimate drivers is by being observant and knowing your rights as well as the procedures that the Public Vehicle commission uses to police the behavior of drivers. The cabbies may be called in for a hearing concerning any procedural rule misconduct and (of course) are subject to criminal prosecution for any acts in violation of the law. As a citizen, protect yourself by always making note of the taxicab's number and, if possible, the cabbie's name and chauffeurs' license number; which should be prominently displayed. The Public Vehicle Operations even has a downloadable complaint form available.
FOR MORE COMPLETE Information on this topic, we refer you to:
City of Chicago, Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection
Public Vehicle Operations Facility
2350 W. Ogden Avenue, First Floor
Chicago, IL 60606
~ ~ ~
John T. “Red” Ryan is a retired Chicago police officer and Garfield Ridge resident.