Rapid Transit Is Threatened by Two Four Letter Words


Rapid Transit Is Threatened by Two Four Letter Words

Chicago Parking Entrepreneur John Hammerschlag was nice enough to refer an article from Crain’s Chicago Business concerning the drop off in Chicago Transit Authority ridership. See the link to the article in parknews.biz.

This follows on to my blog last week here. The article I noted was from Los Angeles and although it gave Uber and Lyft some credit for ridership reduction, it also listed the fact that folks were simply buying cars and driving them.

The Chicago Business article quotes local politicos blaming Uber and Lyft. The article says:

The data are clear. In the first 11 months of 2017, average boardings on CTA trains dropped 12 percent on Saturdays and 13 percent on Sundays from 2015. Compared with 2014, the weekend drops are 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively. That’s striking because, since the early 1990s, train ridership had been rising fast enough to offset a decades-long decline in bus traffic.

Uber says it is not the bad guy; it says its research shows that a fair number of its riders, particularly on the South and West sides, use both transit and Uber for the same trip. A spokesman for Lyft makes the same “first mile/last mile” argument, adding, “Working with public transit, we hope to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles on the road, which will reduce congestion and car ownership.”

So what is Chicago’s solution. You guessed it, tax Uber and Lyft and give the proceeds to the CTA to make up for lost revenue. President Reagan’s quote fits so well:

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” 

In the meantime, Uber and Lyft are causing traffic jams in some neighborhoods (where clubs and restaurants abound) because it seems people are taking the ride share option when they go out to clubs and the resulting drinking and driving. I wonder how the rate of drunken driving has changed with Uber and Lyft.

Those two four letter words are a two edged sword. They take cars off the street, but also affect valet and hotel parking operations. How can our industry work with them to the benefit of both? Anyone out there thinking outside the box?


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John Van Horn

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