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Today’s number: 12,000

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

* From the I-Team

When you hail one of the city’s 6,600 licensed cabs, you may not know what to expect when that meter starts.

So the I-Team read through three months of recent cab complaints, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, from the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

“We get 12,000 complaints a year,” said Jeffrey Lewelling, BACP First Deputy Commissioner […]

The I-Team found that 48 percent, or about 1,400 of them, were about reckless driving. And in just three months, there were 28 total complaints of physical assault.

There’ve been a few allegations of physical assault against Uber/Lyft drivers across the country, but 28 Chicago cabbie assault complaints in three months?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


20 Comments
  1. - PublicServant - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Quit persecuting our small businessmen, Rich. Those complaints are from disgruntled riders who didn’t like being charged the pittance required for the ride provided.


  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    Cab rides can be a trip, no doubt.

    Some free advice: Never take short trips from a driver who’s been sitting for an hour in a taxi line.

    They want to go to the airport. They don’t want to take you 10 blocks down the road. They get angry.

    For short trips, just wave them from the curb.


  3. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    Public Servant, you know that because…

    As a person who takes a cab in Chicago at least once a week, that seems excessive to me too. But that doesn’t mean I will not listen to what these people have to say–maybe I’ve just been lucky. I can think of twice in the last 15 years I’ve felt threatened by a cabbie’s behavior and it was their driving, not actual threats.


  4. - Gator - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    I wouldn’t have believed this but I had to deal with a disgruntled cab driver once. He was mad that my trip from the airport was a short one. He threw me and my bags out of the taxi. Reporting him to the city was an even bigger ordeal that took over 6 months.


  5. - PMcP - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    That’s interesting about the assaults but I’d like to see information on trip location and time of day. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was more of a drunken misunderstanding type of thing, or if the same driver has multiple complaints…


  6. - OneMan - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    Can’t say I am really that surprised by that number. Have seen a couple of really angry cab drivers in my day.


  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    ===Never take short trips from a driver who’s been sitting for an hour in a taxi line.===

    I used to live a dozen or so blocks from Midway Airport. I always dreaded that cab ride home after a flight because the drivers would be furious that they weren’t going downtown. Even generous tips didn’t seem to work. So, I just stopped caring so much. Seems heartless now, but it was a necessary self preservation mechanism back then.


  8. - PublicServant - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    At Ohare, when I grab a cab home to the far northwest side, the cabbie grabs a “short ride” ticket that, I believe, lets them move back near the front of the line, if they get back in a certain period of time.


  9. - Arizona Bob - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    One time I got a cab ride home from O’Hare (not pre-arranged), and I arranged for someone to pick me up in one of the “inner” suburbs a couple of miles from my house so that I didn’t have to pay the Chicago “double fare” fee. The trip was about 20 miles.

    The cabbie was ticked, but I just gave him my best “Chilli Palmer” look and gave him a 20% tip.

    I just had carry on, so I didn’t get the bags thrown at me!


  10. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    I’m not a big uber/lyft supporter, but the self-righteousness of the cab drivers is crazy - half of them are on cell phones even though it’s against the rules even with a handsfree device, another half routinely go 10-20 miles over the speed limit. That said, I’ve rarely come across a violent one, even when I’ve asked to be let out halfway (with payment of fare) because I’m objecting to their behaivor.


  11. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    Wonder if the ITeam has pulled the results from other towns. We always find riding cabs in SPI to among the scariest in the nation — especially the guy who drove and played the clarinet


  12. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:59 pm:

    ==Wonder if the ITeam has pulled the results from other towns.==
    Anecdotally from just my experience, DC cabs were worse. Back when they had zone pricing, a few angrily ordered me out of the cab when my trip was too short for their liking. Many others simply kept their doors locked and asked where people were going before unlocking the doors.


  13. - Michael - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:59 pm:

    Leave local small business taxi owners alone!
    Unlike ride-sharing offshore private billion-
    dollars corporations, our local taxicabs operate
    legally, paying lcoal taxes, and contributing
    to local economy.
    This 12,000.00 complaints number is made up.
    Unreal, and holds no water.
    Unbelievable how short-sigthed some people are.
    They are ready to make up data with sole purpose
    - harm local small businesses that operate
    legally.
    I dare him explain and breakdown 12k number to
    the professionals. This number is bogus.


  14. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    ===Leave local small business taxi owners alone!===

    I checked your IP address, Michael. It’s located in New York City. Also, this…

    ISP: Bloomberg Financial Market
    Organization: Bloomberg

    Stop lying.


  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    Got some of those medallions-in-bulk owners on the East Coast, Rich, lol.


  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===Got some of those medallions-in-bulk owners on the East Coast===

    Yep. And one flew in on his private jet from New York not long ago to meet with legislators.

    Now I wonder if it’s the same guy.


  17. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    =especially the guy who drove and played the clarinet=

    I had a guy once hold a bowl of soup and eat it with a spoon all the while explaining how the American Nazis didn’t want to kill anyone, they just wanted all the non-white people to leave the country.

    I threw 5 bucks at him andjumped out at a stoplight.


  18. - OldSmoky2 - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    Well, I guess it’s worth pointing out that there are 6,600 licensed cabs in Chicago. So if you figure most of them are getting at least three or four fares a day (just a guess), that means there are some 20,000, probably more, cab rides per day in the city. So the math puts that at 28 assault complaints out of, conservatively, 1.8 million rides in three months, with some of those likely baseless, so it’s not really that many. I’m a bit surprised it isn’t higher given that cab drivers pick up a lot of extremely inebriated people in places like Wrigleyville and River North. That said, I’d like to see a more complete story, like how many of those complaints were found to be true and what actions are taken against the drivers in those cases. I try to avoid taking cabs because I’m cheap; instead I usually take the CTA even late at night or, most often, just try to drink within walking distance of home when I go out. But I do use cabs occasionally and guess I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had a single bad experience with them over the years.


  19. - Marathon 82 - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 4:50 pm:

    Cab drivers are almost always on their cell phones. Most cabs smell horrible. The drivers’ hygiene is usually repulsive. The majority will drive slow on purpose to obtain a bigger fare.

    Using their services is still less expensive than driving and parking in Downtown and Near North Chicago.


  20. - Johninchicago - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 9:54 pm:

    The majority of cab drivers are talking on their cell phones when I get in cabs here in Chicago. Some time ago. I came up with the idea of upon entering a cab and discovering the cabbie is on the phone saying ” excuse me, but I don’t tip cab drivers who use their phone while I’m in the cab”. Every one of them hangs up their phone. Go ahead and use my idea. It works!


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