Uber Pool vs. CTA: New Study Compares Travel Times in Chicago

A new study has compared Uber with public transportation in Chicago and it appears the ride-sharing service may be saving riders quite a bit of time – for a price.

DePaul’s Chaddick Institute looked at Uber Pool, the company’s multi-rider carpooling service, and the Chicago Transit Authority, comparing the two between more than 50 matched trips.

“We found on average the CTA came out looking pretty good, but the Uber pool, on average, saved us about 15 minutes per trip,” said Joe Schwieterman, a transportation professor at DePaul University. “It’s a really powerful force in the market.”

The study noted that while Uber Pool proved to be quicker on most trips, it was also more expensive.

“With Uber Pool, the prices we saw for five, six-mile trips tend to be around $9 or $10,” Schweiterman said. “CTA is, of course, around $2 and a quarter. That’s a big gap for fares, but there’s also a big savings in certain kinds of markets and travel times.”

Uber said in the past year, its Pool service has grown 300 percent in Chicago alone. Last month, 70 percent of Pool rides either started or ended in a neighborhood that the city considers underserved by taxi and public transit, the company said.

“We are seeing the sweet spot for Uber Pool is really people going neighborhood to neighborhood,” Schwieterman said. “Where there were bus to bus connections. There were savings that can average as much as 20 minutes.”

The CTA said it “will always be the most affordable—and oftentimes the most convenient—way to travel throughout Chicago and the 35 suburbs it serves.” 

But a spokesperson added that the transit agency “encourages new entries in the marketplace such as bike sharing, ride sharing and car sharing which can complement existing transit services.”

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