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Published on April 11, 2024
Uber Shifts Gears in Chicago, Integrating Traditional Taxis into App Amid Mixed ReactionsSource:, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Turning the wheel towards inclusivity, Uber is steering the path to add traditional cabs into its app in Chicago, changing gears in its erstwhile standalone ride-sharing landscape. Starting Thursday, when Chicagoans tap their app to book a ride, they'll have the option to hail a classic yellow taxi — a move that intertwines the future of Uber with that of the cabbies it once outpaced.

"There's no world in which taxis and Uber exist separately — there's simply too much to gain for both sides," Uber declared in a statement nabbed by Crain's Chicago Business. Meanwhile, CBS reports that nearly all of the city's 2,600 taxi drivers can expect to see Uber trip referrals through their meters.

 A feature incorporated to allow riders to pay the Uber-X rate with upfront pricing, rate their taxi drivers, and tip them easily from within the app itself, as per CBS Chicago.

However, not all are cruising at the same speed with this development. Furquan Mohammed, an attorney involved with taxi medallion transactions, voiced concern to Crain's Chicago Business: "The whole industry took a beating after the surge in ride-share," he said. Mohammed continues to be cautious, indicating that drivers may be "very wary of how it’s going to work out" given the industry's tumultuous history with Uber, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

Uber kicked off a similar program in New York two years ago, before rolling into cities like San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The expansion now to Chicago aligns with their projected course to blend convenience with tradition. "I don’t think it will help," states Shoib Hasan, head of Globe Taxi Association, to Crain's Chicago Business. His skepticism echoes the sentiments of taxi operators wary about sharing their fares with Uber's cut in the mix.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a group that often finds itself in Uber's rearview mirror, has labeled the initiative a 'Trojan horse'. The union's president, Bhairavi Desai, provided a critical perspective to Crain's Chicago Business, "Drivers aren't really seeing an increase in trips as a result, but they are losing income per trip, as Uber may charge the rider even more than the metered rate but drivers are paid far below it." In response to these concerns, Uber counters with an assurance that taxi drivers are not being shortchanged, though no data was provided to underscore the program's impact in other cities.

Chicago-Science, Tech & Medicine