Jan and I went car-free so long ago we never think about that decision anymore, such as when the out-of-shape Fargo man about my age I met poolside at St. Pete Beach last month went on and on in disbelief that anyone could live without a car. His increasing health challenges silently testified to the virtue of a life without cars at its center.
We live downtown, close to every El line, to bus lines, to Metra hubs and Divvy stations, and with taxis, Uber and Lyft rides normally quick and affordable. And when all else fails, there’s Zipcar or a family car available nearby. Transportation without car ownership is a normal way of life for us.
Walking and using the CTA are core aspects of our personal mobility. But, since the pandemic, the El lines have become carriages of lawlessness in the evenings, with folks openly smoking on the train as common practice and all more dangerous kinds of behavior adding a tinge of menace to the experience, one amplified by the news of a soaring number of crimes plaguing the system.
So now, for the first time in our life, we avoid CTA trains after dark. Unfortunately, the once-cheap Uber and Lyft options, now that they’ve destroyed the taxi system with venture-funded fare undercutting, have raised rates dramatically, to a point where they’re usually fifty- to one-hundred-percent higher than the cost of a taxi. But good luck getting a cab using the usually excellent Curb app. It works well from our downtown home, but simply says “not available right now” when you try to return from a location on the South Side or even Navy Pier on a busy night.
So when John Greenfield proposed riding the Red and Blue lines all night and writing about the experience, it was a no-brainer to say yes. What is also a no-brainer is that the city needs to get its mobility infrastructure, especially trains and taxis, working again, and now.
Because we’re not buying a car again. We hope.
Look for Newcity’s May 2022 print edition at over 300 Chicago-area locations this week or subscribe to the print edition at Newcityshop.com.
IN THIS ISSUE
Waking up at Wolff’s Flea Market
Heaven Can’t Wait
Equity Arts aims to reestablish Wicker Park as an arts hub
A mother/daughter cartoon
El of a Night
Twelve hours on the Red and Blue Lines
That Happy Me From Gary
Tina Jenkins Bell’s Chicago story
A new poem from Travis Nichols
And so much more…