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Uber, Lyft (And Cheap Gas) Are Hurting CTA Ridership, Agency Says

By Tanveer Ali | October 18, 2017 6:04am | Updated on October 19, 2017 11:44am

CHICAGO — Low gas prices and the growth of Uber and Lyft have been contributing to declining use of the "L" and city buses, according to CTA officials.

The statement comes after the release of a University of California-Davis study that surveyed commuters across U.S. big cities, including Chicago, and analyzed how ride-share services impact how people move around.

The study found ride-share users have contributed to a 6 percent reduction in transit use. It also found because people are calling Uber and Lyft rides for trips they would otherwise not make — or would have made by walking, biking or taking public transportation, and that's contributing to more miles being driven on roads.

"The expansion of ride-sharing, along with historically low gas prices, is definitely a factor contributing to the CTA’s recent ridership declines," said Catherine Hosinski, a CTA spokeswoman.

In the latest monthly ridership report from the CTA from May, overall ridership was down 4.3 percent. Bus ridership fell 4.9 percent compared with 3.6 percent for "L" trains.

"CTA is still analyzing the specific impacts, but preliminary analysis shows that the impacts have been more pronounced in the late-evening and early-morning hours," Hosinski said.

But in Chicago, both Uber and Lyft have been taking on a bigger role in rush-hour commuting. Lyft started its shuttle service in March with the CTA noting that ride-share companies "complement and extend the transit network and increase connectivity."

In August, morning commuters turned to Uber and Lyft after a death on the "L" tracks. The surge pricing that ensued caused an uproar and prompted the services to offer refunds.

The CTA and ride-share services are both important parts of transportation, an Uber spokeswoman said. 

"At Uber we believe that the future of urban transportation will be a mix of public transit and ridesharing, and that by encouraging residents to use a variety of options, we can all ride together to build a better Chicago," according to a statement from Uber.

A spokesman for Lyft had a similar statement, noting that their economic analysis found that 22 percent of Lyft riders have used their service to connect with public transit: "We believe our cities need more efficient, affordable transportation options to make car ownership a thing of the past and look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with transit agencies to achieve this goal."

RELATED: New Tax On Uber, Lyft Would Pay For CTA Improvements, Rahm Says