Mayor Kennelly’s Jitney War (8-22-1950)

On this date, Mayor Martin Kennelly ordered a crackdown on jitney cabs operating on South Park Way (King Drive) and other South Side boulevards. The jitneys were carrying groups of up to six passengers at a time, charging 15 cents per person. Though this was more expensive than the current 12-cent CTA fare, it was significantly less than the meter rate on licensed cabs.


The jitneys were breaking the law. The mayor warned that any drivers operating without a taxi license would be arrested. The Park District would also be holding public hearings on how to deal with this problem on its boulevards.

Kennelly’s warnings had little effect.  The jitneys kept running.  He also alienated the powerful South Side congressman, William L. Dawson.  Dawson and most of his constituents were African American.  Since many white cab drivers wouldn’t serve black passengers in 1950, the local community relied on the jitneys.

Kennelly was succeeded by a more politically-astute mayor, Richard J. Daley.  When a reporter asked him if he was going to do anything about the jitneys, Daley simply said, “They perform a public service.”  And that was that.

Today, of course, we have Uber.



1 Response to “Mayor Kennelly’s Jitney War (8-22-1950)”

  1. 1 Kyle L August 24, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Uber is going full-jitney this month with a promotion for $3.12 “uber-pool” rides on weekdays. These 21st jitneys cover more than just Bronzeville, too; the offer is valid between Irving Park and 71st, and Western and the lake.

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