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May 16, 2014

3 Reasons @uber is Safer than Traditional Cabs

Filed under: Business,Economics,Politics,Technology & Internet — Chris Chaten @ 3:50 PM

Legislation designed to mandate old school taxi regulations on ridesharing services like Uber, Lyft, and Hailo passed the Illinois Senate. The bill, backed by the taxi lobby, is problematic in that it doesn’t acknowledge the notable safety improvements inherent in ridesharing.

3 Key Distinctions

1. Recorded Events
Taxi: Users hail a cab from the street. They get in a car with an anonymous driver and no record of the trip.

Ridesharing: User records the ride on a phone. The name of the driver is tracked, and there’s a digital record of a user entering the vehicle.

Outcome: There’s a much lower risk of a bad agent acting as a driver in ridesharing. If an event occurs, ridesharing companies know the driver, and the consumer can reference the trip history. In a cab, the user can be subjected to crime/abuse and have no record of who was driving the cab, or even that the trip occurred.

2. Stored Payments
Taxi: Payment method is variable. Drivers risk ‘walk outs’. Consumers risk broken/inoperable card machines / forgotten wallets, etc. Both parties have to wait to settle the transaction.

Ridesharing: Payment is guaranteed in advanced via stored credentials. Ride ends immediately at drop off with no delay.

Outcome: There’s no walk out risk, and a greatly reduced risk of payment related confrontations.

3. Call Ahead
Taxi: Calling a taxi service in urban environments is the execption. Typical use case is a street flag.

Ridesharing: Users ‘call ahead’ in 100% of instances.

Outcome: Users avoid standing next to traffic. Also, users don’t have to wait outside where risk of robbery and other crimes is real, esp. in underserved areas where ridesharing is overrepresented.


April 23, 2014

Predictable: Illinois 39 out of 51 in Taxpayer ROI

Filed under: Business,Politics — Chris Chaten @ 1:45 PM

Illinois government has struggled with basic math for at least a generation, so the study from ranking the state 39th out of 51 in taxpayer ROI isn’t much of a shock.  I’d hazard a guess that a similar study done for large cities would have Chicago near the bottom as well.  Moody’s certainly isn’t impressed…

Full Study


July 30, 2013

The Chipotle Proxy

Filed under: Business,Economics,Technology & Internet — Chris Chaten @ 3:45 PM

When traveling to a new city and looking to explore, I’ll often fire up Waze or Google Maps and search for Chipotle. This usually isn’t because I’m looking for Chipotle, but I’m confident in Chipotle’s real estate choices.

This is becoming less relevant as the business expands, but I’m almost never directed to someplace I shouldn’t really be.

The lesson here for product manager types is that just because Waze’s customer (me) is asking for something (Chipotle), it doesn’t mean that’s what I want exactly.  If I could ask the map to find a relatively cool but sufficiently gentrified place that’d be better.  Alas, that’s not a current feature.


May 16, 2013

An Out for Chicago’s Parking Meter Trouble (cc @RahmEmanuel @ChicagosMayor @AldReilly)

Filed under: Business,Economics,Politics — Chris Chaten @ 10:57 AM

Naturally, the deal Chicago signed for parking deals is a tricky mess. The hourly rates are now up to $6.50 / hr, more than double the rate of just 5 years ago.  The 2008 contract prevents the city from lowering these rates.  So the city gets no revenue, citizens are screwed, and there’ s not much we can do about it.

However, there’s an angle we haven’t explored. All revenue from parking tickets still goes to the city.  While there are provisions that require compensation from the city if roads are closed, meter rates are lowered, or inventory is reduce, there are no provisions that limit the rate of a parking ticket fine.  So what can the city do?

Chicago should drastically lower the fine for expired meters.

This may seem counterintuitive, as it’s the only residual revenue source. But if we drop the  price from the current $65 to $5 – 10, anyone parking over an hour wouldn’t have much incentive to feed the meter. If they do get ticketed, the city pockets the revenue.

This would greatly increase the volume of tickets, so revenue would likley be hit only marginally.  And it creates a perfect incentive for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC to re-open the contract, as the meter revenue would plunge.


January 16, 2013

Does Tiger Woods Perform Better in Black Shoes? #sportsplusnumbers #golf @tigerwoods

Filed under: Business,Sports — Chris Chaten @ 9:34 AM

(Note: For more awesome sports-data analysis visit the Sports + Numbers blog.)

The 2013 golf season kicks off tonight for Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in Abu Dhabi1. Coming off of a solid 2012, Tiger is looking to break a 5-year major slump. In order to close the deal on Sundays, I have one suggestion for Tiger: wear black shoes.


For every final round, Tiger sports a red shirt with black trousers. To begin 2012, he started wearing his new Free-inspired golf shoes. Some Sundays, he paired the black pants with white shoes, sometimes black.

In addition to looking foolish wearing white shoes with black pants, there is highly suggestive data that indicates performance is markedly improved with the black shoes2.

Over the course of 17 events in 2012, starting with Abu Dhabi in January and finishing with the Tour Championship in September, Tiger shot and average of 3.7 strokes better on Sunday wearing black shoes compared to white. But, perhaps, Tiger wore the black shoes on easier courses…

He did, but the effect is slight. Tiger still is 3.21 shots better compared to the average field performance in black over white. Take a look at the raw data:


Despite this overwhelming data regarding shoe color, the more telling behavior here is the performance in major championships3. Here, he averaged .43 shots above the field on Sunday, never beating the field.  Comparatively, for the three victories, Tiger’s Sundays bested the field by almost 5 shots.


1. 10:00 PM Eastern, Golf Channel
2. Data is clearly not significant. It only measures 17 events, of which, the back half are loaded with black shoes.  Tiger was 0.3 shots better in the second half of the year net to field.
3. The Masters, US Open, Open Championship, & PGA Championship.