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The City of Evanston may be on the verge of dropping its taxicab regulations to give taxis parity with new transportation network providers like Uber and Lyft.

City Attorney Grant Farrar, in a memo to aldermen to be discussed at tonight’s Administration and Public Works Committee meeting, suggests the city’s taxi regulatory scheme mostly duplicates rules already imposed by the state.

And since the city recently decided to rely on state regulation for the transportation network providers, Farrar will ask the aldermen whether they’d like to do the same for taxis — dropping all city-mandested fees for taxi medallion holders and drivers.

Farrar says Evanston started regulating taxis in 1978 and last made significant amendments to its taxi regulations in the mid-1990s.

The number of licensed taxi drivers in Evanston has dropped dramatically since the new services arrived on the scene in 2013. The city has gone from having more than two licensed drivers available to operate each of the 140 licensed cabs to less than one.

One further question will be what to do about the city’s taxi coupon program — which lets senior citizens and residents with ambulatory disabilities who meet income limits buy discounted coupons for $3 each from the city for use on taxi rides within Evanston, with the drivers then being reimbursed by the city for the fares.

Usage of the program dropped by 30 percent last year, after peaking in 2104. City officials say about 24,000 trips were taken using the program last year.

Related stories

Taxi licensees see their investment evaporate (4/26/16)

City drops effort to license Uber (1/27/15)

Alderman back away from rideshare clampdown (9/25/14)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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