In alignment with its mission to attract and retain a talented workforce, the Greater Oak Brook Economic Development Partnership (EDP) forged a working coalition with local commercial property owners and the RTA to bring “last mile” transportation opportunities for Oak Brook area commuting employees. This two-year pilot was funded 80% in year one and 50% in year two by a grant from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), with the participating commercial properties supporting the remainder of the costs. The pilot connected one of the largest Chicago area suburban job clusters to two of the region’s highest ridership commuter rail lines.
Based upon the EDP’s survey of local employers as well as reviewing commercial neighborhood density, the EDP facilitated the July 2018 launch of a Shuttle Pilot Program, bringing commuters to ten commercial properties in Oak Brook during the morning and evening rush hours from the Elmhurst Metra Station. Initially tenants of these participating properties were able to ride the Ford Motor Company Chariot Shuttle by accessing the Chariot online app. Chariot was selected based upon its experience in the micro-transit market, as well as its marketing and technology expertise.
What began as a shuttle service operated by Chariot to/from the Elmhurst Metra station on the UP-West line transitioned in March 2019 to an on-demand ride hail service operated by Lyft when Ford discontinued operation of its Chariot subsidy. With Lyft operating the service, riders were connected to Elmhurst as well as Hinsdale Metra station on the BNSF line.
The RTA Last Mile grant program expired at the end of June 2020 with over 3000 rides offered under the program. The goal of the program was achieved, providing valuable information to our business community on innovative, effective, and economically efficient ways to connect the area with expansive employee populations, which may provide the future blueprint for their individual expansion of the project for their own organizations.