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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Am I the only Chicago driver who cringes whenever he has a pick up or drop off in this area? Twice yesterday and two more times in my month-old new career as an Uber driver, I've gotten totally screwed up down there because the driver app either doesn't function at all or, even when it's getting a signal, can't tell the difference between the upper and lower level.

It was like being in the Bermuda Triangle--up was down, down was up, the compass was spinning. The only thing missing was UFOs. OK, not quite that bad, but I find it extremely embarrassing to have a paying customer in the car as I drive around completely lost.

Other than driving around there on my own time to try to learn my way around better and going off line when I'm in the area to avoid pick ups, do any of you Chicago veterans have any advice for me? I usually use Google Maps. Is Waze better down there?
 

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That's my policy now. That is exactly the problem last night. I was going up W. Wacker to Mortons Steak House, and the app told me to stay left and go to the lower level, and that totally screwed me up. Why does it do that when it's totally wrong?
 

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Yes; indeed Lower Wacker is one of many spots downtown (Randolph/Columbus/Wacker corridor in Streeteevile, Kennedy in the loop, are others) that GPS won't help you cover up not knowing what you're doing. But you really need to know this stuff if you want to drive Chicago. Lower Wacker can save 20 minutes from Streeterville to the IKE (when fully open) and locals know. And what if you get a request at The Billy Goat? I guess INCOMPETENCE is among the reasons the Vets find newbies particularly annoying (i've been there). After a couple [email protected]$k ups i decided if im going to do this Uber thing, i will do it right. Drive them and practice on Sunday morning. Tourists love when you ask them to picture the Bat Mobile racing Lower Wacker and they eat it up.

And once you know it, its not that hard.
 

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That's my policy now. That is exactly the problem last night. I was going up W. Wacker to Mortons Steak House, and the app told me to stay left and go to the lower level, and that totally screwed me up. Why does it do that when it's totally wrong?
This is why its good to know your way around and not always rely on the app like waze or other gps, i use wake but i always adapt as needed to each route as i know really well the ins and out of lower wacker especially by columbus
 

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Yikes, there's a lower lower Wacker Drive? Sounds like a portal to hell.
It truly is.

It is a dark labyrinth of tunnels connecting the service docks of the high-rise buildings directly above. Only garbage trucks and delivery vehicles go down there. There are also many homeless people permanently camped in some of the remote corners and hidden coves.

It's an interesting place to get lost in on a slow Sunday morning, but I would not advise taking passengers down there.

I only take people on the grand tour of the city's underbelly when they express genuine curiosity about it, but would never drag tourists through there, when they came to see the skyscrapers and parks.

The sight of rats, squalor, and general depressing atmosphere would leave an unfavorable image in the minds of the pax.
 

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Re: Lower Wacker

Meh, I don't know about avoiding lower Wacker with tourists, but I guess that's a personal choice.

However it's a great way to transverse the Loop during the evening rush hour, and many locals prefer it. I've had two requests by locals to use it within the past several weeks, including one from a women living in the South Loop who was running late for a dinner reservation just north of the river.

Also, the city cracked down on the homeless down there when they did the renovation & reconstruction a few years ago. The place looks way better than it used to, in terms of architecture of both architecture and homeless. At least on the west and south end. It's still pretty raggedy where it becomes lower Michigan.

Before the reconstruction, you had to be one helluva' driver with a bit of daring to navigate between the structural poles in traffic to get to the inner through-pass lanes. Now, it's relatively trivial driving down there - *if* you know where you're going.
 

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Am I the only Chicago driver who cringes whenever he has a pick up or drop off in this area? Twice yesterday and two more times in my month-old new career as an Uber driver, I've gotten totally screwed up down there because the driver app either doesn't function at all or, even when it's getting a signal, can't tell the difference between the upper and lower level.

It was like being in the Bermuda Triangle--up was down, down was up, the compass was spinning. The only thing missing was UFOs. OK, not quite that bad, but I find it extremely embarrassing to have a paying customer in the car as I drive around completely lost.

Other than driving around there on my own time to try to learn my way around better and going off line when I'm in the area to avoid pick ups, do any of you Chicago veterans have any advice for me? I usually use Google Maps. Is Waze better down there?
The upshot is that the only way to truly know where you're going is drive it.
 

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Am I the only Chicago driver who cringes whenever he has a pick up or drop off in this area? Twice yesterday and two more times in my month-old new career as an Uber driver, I've gotten totally screwed up down there because the driver app either doesn't function at all or, even when it's getting a signal, can't tell the difference between the upper and lower level.

It was like being in the Bermuda Triangle--up was down, down was up, the compass was spinning. The only thing missing was UFOs. OK, not quite that bad, but I find it extremely embarrassing to have a paying customer in the car as I drive around completely lost.

Other than driving around there on my own time to try to learn my way around better and going off line when I'm in the area to avoid pick ups, do any of you Chicago veterans have any advice for me? I usually use Google Maps. Is Waze better down there?
Career? Wow. I feel so bad for you!!
 

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I recommend that you take a day and just drive around and familiarize yourself with the area east of Michigan between Ohio and Randolph. There are shortcuts you can use that will save you a LOT of time, and avoid getting cancelled on. For example, the ramp On East South Water Street (What a stupid name for a street!) up to Columbus can be a lifesaver when picking up on E Wacker or E Randolph. GPS does not work down under, so memorize the step by step directions before you go underground. The map in the Uber app seems to do better at tracking your car, but should not be trusted down there.
Often the GPS will send you to a destination on the lower level, such as Lower Michigan, when the rider is on the upper level. If the destination is on Michigan, and the GPS tells you to take Illinois, you will end up under the destination, so you need to go to Ohio to get to upper Michigan. When you get sent to this area, always check your step by step directions for the final destination and if it says something like "E North Water St", you know you are being sent to the wrong level.
My rule of thumb is to always assume that the rider is on the upper level, and plan my route accordingly, ignoring the GPS.
The more you drive in that area, the better you will understand the layout.
Also, don't confuse E North Water St with E South Water St. They are on opposite sides of the River.
Today I had a fare from North Broadway to Winfield, IL (42 mi, my longest trip to date) , and they were trying to catch a train out there in an hour. LSD was crawling around the Oak St curve, so I got off a Chestnut, and scooted over to Lower Wacker which took me right to 290 W and saved us 8 minutes. They didn't make the train, but that's beside the point.
The point is that getting to know these complicated areas of downtown can save you a lot of time and aggravation. I learned the routes I use through trial and error. If you educate yourself, you can avoid the 'error' part when it comes to the 'trial'.
 

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Really you need your GPS to navigate the city? All I need is your intersection for the most part and I know how to get there. I get passengers all the time that tell me uber drivers won't go on lower wacker bc the gps stops working. If you need to rely on the GPS to navigate then don't work in that area til you do. Also Lower Wacker is the fastest way to get to LSD.
 

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I try very hard to memorize the route before I start going down there. One time, I had to drop off at the sheraton...ugh...omg... anywhoo, thank god the passenger knew how to get around there.. I apologized for going in circles and ended the trip three blocks before they got out...I felt pretty bad about not know what I was doing...kind of embarassing..

maybe next weekend I'll do what MAHATMA57 suggested and drive down to familiarize myself.
 

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Yikes, there's a lower lower Wacker Drive? Sounds like a portal to hell.
While I've come to know Lower Wacker, Friday night was my first sojourn to the "portal to hell" and it was actually pretty cool. Picked up a pax going from E Randolph to Berwyn. He was a colorful sort and I'll forgive him for dragging me out to Berwyn, having me stop at Lucky Dog so he could stuff his face and then when it came time to tip; "what, I can't tip on the app"? But I digress. What was cool is that he told me he knew a shortcut and I told him go for it. The journey started at a condo building between Randolph & Benton where we went down the ramp into the parking garage, veered a quick right down another ramp to lower - lower wacker. I'll be damned if I can remember the series of turns and up and down ramps from there to help us bypass the construction on Lower Wacker by LSD but I did get to see a homeless camp that was a small village down there! After about 15 turns and 6 up and down ramps we merged with Lower Wacker just west of Michigan and I was off to the races. Some day I want to try and re-trace that path but I'm not sure I can!
 
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