Uber Replacing Mass Transit, Could Replace Pace in McHenry County

Found this article in the Chicago Tribune Thursday:

I’ve written before about the possibility of Uber and Lyft taking the place of Pace in McHenry County before, but with the evidence presented in the Tribune article, it’s time to run the idea up the flag pole again.

The question I raise is why little buses are required to transport people when cars or vans would do just as well.

One of the promises I found during the 1974 RTA referendum debate was,

“Public transportation, when and where you need it, throughout the region.”

The pledge wasn’t widely disseminated, but, somewhere in my RTA files at the NIU Regional Library, that promise can be found.

Now discontinued Wonder Lake Pace bus on Route 47 in Woodstock.

It was nonsense in 1974.

And as funny as the Democratic Party’s State Rep. candidate Ron Stroup telling people passage of the referendum would bring commuter rail service to Huntley.

Pace provides an opportunity for those without motor vehicles to get free food at Nunda Township on Fridays. But it didn’t show up one day.

Maybe someday, but forty years after the debate assertion, commuter trains are not providing service to Huntley.

However, the obscure promise headlined above is within reach.

Ride-sharing companies could provide transportation throughout McHenry County, if the money currently used for by Pace and its local governmental partners were diverted to ride-sharing company subsidies.

In 2010, McHenry County Board members Sandra Salgado, Anna May Miller, Donna Schaefer, Ken Koehler, Rick Kwasneski cut the ribbon on a bus with a new subsidy for Pace transpiration.

The only problem, pointed out and perhaps even solved in Chicago, is for those needing handicapped accessibility to a vehicle.

There has to be a cheaper way to provide that than buses, each with a wheelchair lift mechanism.

In 2016, each McHenry County Pace rider was subsidized $16.10 a ride.


Uber Replacing Mass Transit, Could Replace Pace in McHenry County — 15 Comments

  1. If you want public transportation move to the city.

    There’s a reason we live in a semi rural county.

    It’s totally inefficient to subsidize transportation in non-urban areas.

  2. Not everyone can afford uber.

    Possibly pace could consider less restrictive scheduling processes to make themselves competitive.

    Requiring customers to submit requests 24 hrs in advance is prohibitive.

  3. You have just given but one of Pace’s deficiencies–the advance scheduling requirement.

    My suggestion is that those who need subsidies now provided to Pace get them with Uber or Lyft.

  4. At the rate that people are fleeing from the sanctuary state of Illinois
    there may not be any need for subsidized transportation in the not to
    distant future.

  5. Cal,

    In theory, it’s an interesting idea. A few problems to consider though….

    -How do you solve for people that don’t have smartphones/access to the uber app, but want a lift? They just don’t get access to transportation anymore? Seems pretty heartless.

    -Uber/Lyft are heavily subsidized by VC funds leading to artificially lower prices. What happens down the line when prices foreseeably go up? Will the board be forced to raise taxes to pay for the program?

    -Uber drivers are not part of Uber, they are technically independent contractors. Does this mean the city will have to issue multiple reimbursements to drivers or to Uber directly via some sort of contract? In either instance, there are scalability issues that don’t bode well. Then consider the demand that McHenry county provides to Ubar/Lyft. We are probably near to the end of the list in consideration to participate in a project of this scale. A larger market with greater potential (ie: Chicago, Seattle, LA, New York) would probably participate in a pilot like this before a 300k population municipality.

    In sum, fix pace now and hope that there’s a better alternative later.

  6. Just seems to me this is a large opportunity to save tax dollars.

    I see Pace waste every time I see a near empty bus, whether small or large.

  7. If I had a nickel every time I drove past a PACE bus and there were more than 2 riders it in… I’d have $0

    If I had a dollar every time I drove past a PACE bus and there were 0 riders… I’d have at least $200

  8. If I had a nickel every time I read a nonsense comment in this sunshine blog…I’d have $4,765,538,295,609.85 tic, tock, tic, tock…

  9. When I last reviewed the Pace program here in McHenry County a couple of years ago, the average cost per ride was around $18.00 with over a $16.00 subsidy while cab fare for the average ride would have been around $6.00 to $7.00.

    However, the Pace program is not means-tested.

    This means if they decide to use Uber, they open themselves up to unlimited Uber subsidies.

  10. Angel, if you had a nickel for every brain cell you had, you would owe money.

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