Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to charge your cell phone on the CTA

Posted By on 02.16.16 at 02:40 PM

Safer sources of power on CTA property are the outlets along the platforms of el stations, the covers of which are often unfastened. - CHRIS RIHA
  • Chris Riha
  • Safer sources of power on CTA property are the outlets along the platforms of el stations, the covers of which are often unfastened.

Metra commuters enjoy a number of niceties that aren't available to CTA straphangers: padded seats, onboard bathrooms, the right to savor an adult beverage during the ride.

To that list of Metra perks add the ability to legally charge cell phones and other electronic devices in stations and aboard the bi-level trains. The agency announced in December that riders can power up their gadgets for free at new charging stations in all five downtown depots, which also offer complimentary Wi-Fi. Located near ticket booths and waiting areas, the outlets have wall-style sockets as well as USB ports.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Uber encourages its Chicago drivers to capitalize on taxi strike

Posted By on 10.08.15 at 01:05 PM


Where taxi drivers see a problem, Uber sees an opportunity. The rideshare behemoth encouraged its Chicago drivers to take advantage of a planned taxi strike Thursday.

"Thousands of Chicagoans will be looking for a ride to work, so We Need YOU to help us move Chicago," Uber Chicago general manager Chris Taylor wrote in an e-mail Thursday. "It's going to be a busy day on the road!"

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Cabbies have an unlikely ally in their fight against Uber: Uber drivers

Posted By on 10.08.15 at 10:48 AM

click image Chicago taxi drivers demonstrated outside City Hall and circled neighboring streets to protest the granting of a city license to rideshare company Uber in February. - (FLICKR/SCOTT L.)
  • (Flickr/Scott L.)
  • Chicago taxi drivers demonstrated outside City Hall and circled neighboring streets to protest the granting of a city license to rideshare company Uber in February.

"You Uber?"

The cop's gruff tone was not curious but accusatory. He looked both pissed and eager to take care of business, his squad car's gumball lights a-spinnin'.

"Yes, sir," I replied.

"Pull into that spot and turn off your car!" he barked.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

What happens now that Chicago is taxing the 'share' economy?

Posted By on 03.30.15 at 01:00 PM

  • Thinkstock
A local woman who rents out her Ukrainian Village condo on Airbnb says she has nothing but great things to say about doing so. Using the service has introduced her to cool strangers and changed her perspective on people for the better—and it often makes her as much as two times more money in a month than she would make with a standard tenant. But she'd rather not be named because of a lingering fear of being caught in a gray area that had become familiar territory to people participating in the sharing or peer economy.

Airbnb recently took a big step toward legitimacy in Chicago when, on February 15, it agreed to start collecting a 4.5 percent tax on rentals, but that hasn't appeased everyone. Hoteliers in particular, who have to contend with the city's 16.4 percent tax, have called for the city to crack down, enforce existing regulations, and require all property owners using the service to obtain vacation rental licenses.

"If they get a license and pay the full 16.4 percent tax, then maybe they're competition, and we have no problem if they do it legally,” says Marc Gordon, president and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, an industry trade group. "If they do it illegally without being a licensed renter in Chicago, we do have a problem with that. They get away with not paying the hotel tax, and they’re not providing the guests with the same security and putting the guests at jeopardy. As soon as there’s a major incident, people will go crazy about why nobody is enforcing the rental ordinance."

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Obnoxious West Loop parking restrictions cost drivers $150K

Posted By on 01.12.15 at 12:30 PM

A bagged sign in the West Loop
Parking in the West Loop is already a painful experience for Chicagoans—right up there with braving a Polar Vortex and pretty much any amount of snow shoveling. So it's no wonder that West Loop residents were peeved when, about a year and a half ago, even more parking restrictions were proposed for the area.

The restrictions—which affect a nice chunk of residential streets, including Laflin, Peoria and Morgan—were the brain child of the West Loop Community Organization, a neighborhood chamber of commerce. The whole idea came about as a plan to curb "day trippers," people the WLCO said were driving into the city, parking their cars in restriction-free West Loop spaces, then taking public transit downtown for the day.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Alderman Ameya wants Mayor Rahm to bring back full service to the Lincoln Avenue bus

Posted By on 11.21.14 at 03:30 PM

Alderman Ameya Pawar shouldve haggled for the #11 bus.
On Monday, 47th Ward alderman Ameya Pawar led 100 or so seniors to a CTA public hearing where they demanded that the agency restore full service to the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus.

A few days later, Crain's broke the news that the DePaul basketball arena's already over budget.

And they haven't even started building the arena yet. Way to go, Mr. Mayor—feel free to mention that in one of your upcoming reelection commercials.

Allow me to connect the dots between these two things . . .

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Illinois' rideshare bill isn't dead quite yet, Uber

Posted By on 11.18.14 at 03:45 PM

Governor Quinn, pictured with Uber regional GM Andrew MacDonald, vetoed Illinois rideshare bill in August.
It's only Tuesday, but Uber's having one hell of a week!

As Buzzfeed reported, the rideshare giant's senior VP Emil Michael suggested at a party that it would be expedient to create a team of dirt-digger-uppers to dig up dirt on journalists who write stories critical of their company, particularly Sarah Lacy, a silicon valley reporter who hasn't exactly ingratiated herself. Michael was under the impression the dinner was "off the record"—but someone had neglected to mention that to a Buzzfeed editor who was also in attendance. Whoops! CEO Travis Kalanick—who looks remarkably like founding father Alexander Hamilton—responded in a series of 13 emphatic tweets. Well done mounting a defense in 1,820 characters or less.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Finding The Long, Long Trailer and wide, wide seats at Webster Place

Posted By on 09.15.14 at 03:19 PM

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in The Long, Long Trailer
  • Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in The Long, Long Trailer
I think a spate of good luck might be coming my way. Just last week I found a copy of Vincente Minnelli's The Long, Long Trailer in the clearance section of the Webster Place Barnes & Noble for less than five bucks, along with a package of Raoul Walsh's Battle Cry and William Wellman's Battleground for around eight. And I had gone into the store just to use the bathroom!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Seat wars in the sky: Reclining is a 'screw you' to the world

Posted By on 09.03.14 at 02:30 PM

Passengers want their two inches—next, the moon.
  • AP Photos
  • Passengers want their two inches—next, the moon.
The opposite of a placebo is the drug you don't take because you know it won't do you any good. It might be a fine drug. You might even have seen it advertised on television! But you're certain it won't help.

Something along these lines explains why when I fly I rarely put my seat back. I was uncomfortable as soon as I sat down and I'm going to remain uncomfortable, so why go through the motions? The idea of leaning back no longer even occurs to me. Near the end of the flight, when the order goes out to "return your seats to an upright position," I often think oops and lean back as far as I can go to find out what ease and comfort I just missed out on; but it's never much.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The ultimate Chicago bike, revealed—meet the BLACKLINE

Posted By on 07.26.14 at 12:00 PM

Chicagos bike, the BLACKLINE
  • Shamis McGillin
  • Chicago's bike, the BLACKLINE

At a Friday night release party, held in a warehouse next to Minimal's West Loop office, the bike prototype developed by Chicago's Oregon Manifest team was finally revealed to the public.

The team's vision for a better bike for Chicago, the tech-heavy BLACKLINE, presented a reductive version of what an urban utility bike can be, with a name inspired by the rattling Green Line train that runs just above Minimal's Lake Street studio. According to brand director Kevin Flatt, they thought about it as the ride that can "take you to the places where the el train can't."

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