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Illinois seeks to regulate rideshare services

Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:05 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:06 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – A dispute among taxi companies, Chicago officials and rideshare companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar is about to welcome one more player: state lawmakers who say the rideshare industry needs to play by the same rules as other transportation businesses.

Lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a proposal that would require rideshare companies to have commercial insurance, chauffer licenses, vehicle requirements and set pricing rates. It also creates guidelines on where rideshare drivers must operate, restricting them from driving to airports, convention centers or taxi loading zones.

Rideshare companies, which connect drivers and passengers with the swipe of a smartphone app, are expanding their businesses across the world, and prompting government officials to grapple with ways to regulate the industry — Illinois included.

State Rep. Michael Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, said these are common-sense safety measures to protect residents.

"Ridesharing companies have repeatedly made the claim that there's ambiguity, or a lack of regulation in Illinois," Zalewski said. "We don't condone unlicensed, unregulated activity, and, in fact, it's our duty to protect the public safety of our constituents."

But rideshare companies, which are in talks with Chicago officials to develop a city rideshare ordinance, say they're already using safety standards such as background checks and insurance. They say further regulations seek to protect taxi companies from competition from a new, innovative technology.

"There is an appropriate rule of government to ensure safety, not to protect an existing service," said Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul.

State Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Democrat from Chicago, said this is an urgent issued that needs to be addressed on a statewide level.

The proposal is scheduled to be heard in a House committee on Wednesday.

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