Uber is increasing its footprint in Chicago by making it easier for users of the company’s ride-hailing app to get car service at the city’s Navy Pier. The company announced this week that it was introducing three dedicated pickup spots at Illinois’ most visited tourist attraction.
Users still need to summon an Uber driver via smartphone, but this move will facilitate pickups in the sprawling and confusing waterfront space. With the app’s “venue” category, they can choose one of the three places (IMAX movie theater, Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze and the Grand Ballroom).
While this doesn’t mark a change from Uber’s on-demand service to traditional taxi stands, where city taxis can line up and take fares, it is, according to the Chicago Business Journal, “the first time the company has used its ‘Venues’ technology at a special event venue.”
As with airports, traditional taxi drivers still have a stronghold on popular tourist spots such as Navy Pier. However, Los Angeles has already OK’d some Uber and Lyft pickup at LAX, and Chris Taylor, general manager for Uber in Illinois, told Crain’s Chicago Business that the Navy Pier deal “adds momentum” to their efforts to expand pickup to Chicago’s two airports, Midway and O’Hare.
That battle likely will not be won without a fight.
“I think the industry would oppose that,” Mara Georges, a lawyer for the Illinois Transportation Trade Association, told Crain’s. “I think it’s important that UberX drivers be held to the same rules and regulations that the taxi drivers are.”
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.