Since the city of Chicago allowed giant rideshare companies like uber and lyft to pick up passengers at O’Hare international Airport, the waiting times for Chicago taxi drivers who come to O’Hare’s staging area have tripled and quadrupled in some cases. Prior to allowing TNP (Transportation Network Providers), a term the city of Chicago uses to refer to uber and lyft, prior to allowing those companies to pick up passengers at O’Hare, the typical waiting time for a Chicago taxi driver at O’Hare used to average 1-2 hours from the minute a driver pulls into the back of the taxi line in the taxi staging area to the moment he or she arrives to the front of the line to pick up a passenger down at the terminals. Today, that wait time has increased from 1-2 hours to 3,4 or even 5 hours since the majority of the ridership at O’Hare are now taking uber and Lyft instead of taxis like they used to.
Unfortunately , TNP is not Chicago taxi drivers only problem at O’Hare today, Standard Parking’s taxi starters have also become a major problem for those drivers.
This is a story that I’m sure every Chicago taxi driver will understand and relate to. How many of you drivers have had to wait for a very long time in a very long line to Terminal 1 that sometimes can stretch back beyond the planes overpass over I-190? And as soon as you arrive down to the pick up area of terminal 1, the starter scans your stamp and decides that you should go to the back of the line at Terminal 2, even though terminal 2 may not be in need of any taxis at that time. So you go to terminal 2 and wait there for a long time again, and then the starter at Terminal 2 decides that since terminal 2 doesn’t have any passengers in need of taxis, you should actually go to the back of the line at Terminal 3, where you may have wait again for a very long time to get to the front of the line to pickup a passenger. Which in turn adds an additional 45-90 minutes of unnecessary wait.
I have this happened to me personally so many times more than I can count or keep track of. In fact; I have noticed that it’s become the norm here at O’Hare Airport.
There is no specific time of day or night or a specific group of starters who engage in this practice, which leads me to believe that it must be a strategy decided on by either the Department of Aviation, Standard Parking, BACP, or all of those together.
Sometimes a driver waits a long time in the long line to Terminal 1, and just as he or she about to pick up a fare with only 3 or 4 more cabs to the front of the line; the starter comes and asks that driver to leave and go to Terminal 2, even though there are tons of passengers standing in line at Terminal 1 Who need taxis. So the poor deiver goes from about to pickup a fare in Terminal 1 after all that wait, to ending up being sent to wait at Terminal 2 where there is usually no passengers looking for taxis what so ever.
Why was it so important to send a driver who waited too long to get to the point of where he or she is about to pick up a passenger, and then send them away to a Terminal that doesn’t need taxis? Why? What is the logic behind that?!
The drive from Terminal 1 to 2 is 20-30 seconds, and from Terminal 1 to 3 is 40-50 seconds. Since it takes less than a minute to get a passenger picked up in Terminal 2 or 3 by a taxi coming from Terminal 1, then where is the harm in having a passenger who needs a ride in either one of these two terminals to simply wait a minute or less to get picked up by cab sent from terminal 1 rather than sending taxis unnecessarily from terminal 1 to another terminal that doesn’t need taxis at that time? Which results in longer unnecessary waiting times to so many drivers.
This practice by some of the taxi starters at o’hare is very stressful and emotionally abusive to taxi drivers, it is cruel and unfair, especially when so many of Chicago taxi drivers are already under enough stress and struggling financially to where they’re forced to work long hours everyday just to make ends meat due to the increased decline in taxi ridership.
The majority of taxi drivers have over head costs that they must pay first before they can make any money for themselves everyday they work. They have to pay for a taxi lease which can average anywhere from $50-$100 a day based on the type of vehicle and the term of the lease. They also have to pay for gas, and they have to pay a $4 MPEA Stamp, which commonly referred to as airport Departure Tax. So by the time a driver gets his or her fare out of O’Hare, he or she are already in the hole or barely breaking even. And if that driver ends up getting a fare that is going a short trip after having waited 4-5 hours, then you can imagine just the kind of negative emotional impact that has on the driver.
Time is money to us taxi drivers. So when taxi starters decide who should wait even longer before they can get a fare, then something is absolutely wrong and it has to be fixed immediately.