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5 takeaways from Chicago’s ride-hailing data

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Do Chicagoans tip Uber and Lyft drivers? The city’s newly published data has answers

Downtown Chicago.
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The city recently published data on more than 17 million Uber, Lyft, and Via trips as well as information on registered drivers and vehicles. While looking at spreadsheets might be fun for some people, we’ve compiled a few interesting statistics for you.

For those who actually do want to dive deeper, there’s a tool that lets you easily visualize certain aspects of the data into various graphs including how much drivers get tipped or how many people are taking a trip.

The data goes as far back as November 2018, which is when the city first started collecting information from ride-hailing apps. It’s the same data that the city requires taxi companies to relay.

The action is one small step toward realizing the mayor’s mobility and transportation plan compiled by a 20-member task force. Officials hope sharing more information between public agencies and private companies will provide insight on how to fix transportation issues.

So far, here’s what we’ve gathered from the data.

How much do Chicagoans tip their Uber, Lyft, and Via drivers?
About 82 percent of riders didn’t tip their driver. The most common tip left was $2 which 6 percent of riders gave and $1 which was only 4 percent of riders. The largest tip given through an app was $120 for a 45-mile, 1 hour long trip.

How often do riders share a trip?
It turns out that 82 percent of trips had just one passenger. Only about 10 percent of rides had two people and 7 percent had three people. This snippet of data falls in line with the argument that ride-hailing services are actually causing more traffic and congestion, rather than minimizing it.

The average cost of an Uber, Lyft, or Via trip in Chicago.
So, 26 percent of trips were $5, 21 percent were $7, and 14 percent were $10. That means more than half of the rides people request are less than $10 total. Although, fares aren’t always low. The most expensive trip in the data set was a 4-hour, 135-mile ride that cost about $1,400.

The most popular areas for pick-up and drop-offs.
The data can get very detailed here but we’ll look at the community areas, which are similar to neighborhoods. In order to make the data anonymous the city will sometimes leave location data out, list it as a census tract, or use community areas. Rides that start or end out of Chicago would also be missing location data.

The Near North Side, which includes neighborhoods like the Gold Coast, Streeterville, Old Town and River North had 2.93 million pick ups and 2.78 million drop offs which was the most out of any community area.

Next up was the Loop with 1.54 million pick ups and 1.69 million drop offs. Following that, was the Near West Side which includes the Fulton Market, Illinois Medical District, and the United Center area. This area had 1.53 million pick ups and 1.55 million drop offs.

How does ride-hailing affect public transit?
The downtown areas with the most pick ups and drop offs are filled with offices, hotels, tourist destinations, and trendy restaurants which might explain the popularity. What’s interesting is that public transportation is incredibly accessible from these areas. Every L train has a stop in the Loop—the Washington/Wabash station has four different lines and a few blocks away are two other lines. There are plenty of bus lines and a major Metra station too.

Despite all this, plus irritating downtown traffic and lost signals on Wacker Drive, downtown trips still reach up into the millions. So are ride-hailing apps taking away from public transit? It’s hard to say. Chicago’s traffic and transportation aren’t perfect, and this data is one step to figuring out how to make it better.

Jeff Andrews, Curbed’s data reporter, contributed to this story.