Chicago opens TNC data to the public

By Eric Sundquist

Getting data from transportation network companies for planning and other purposes has been a challenge. Agencies want to understand where TNCs are operating in order to address curb management, congestion, and transit-cannibalization issues.

“It’s not necessarily that we need TNC data to regulate the TNCs. We need TNC data just like we need data on cyclists and we need data on private vehicle use and we need data on walking,” Alice Grossman, a policy analyst at the Eno Center for Transportation, told the Overhead Wire blog.

But TNCs have viewed such data as proprietary and have been reluctant to share.

Chicago, however, has an advantage over many cities in this area, due to its per-ride TNC tax established four years ago. Now the city has made that data public.

The data should be of significant use for curb management purposes—or it would if Chicago weren’t tied to a flawed parking-meter deal that makes it hard to manage the curb. The data give counts of trip origins and destinations by zone.

The data may also shed light on the TNC industry, because they give information on fares (even tips), vehicles, and drivers.

Unfortunately the data are less useful for assessing trip flows, as many trips begin or end outside of the city. They also do not include deadhead trips.

For those wishing to explore, the data are downloadable here.

Eric Sundquist is Director of SSTI.