Gilbert B Norman wrote: ↑Sun Oct 01, 2023 1:54 pm
Andrew, my immediate was posted to show that the operators of this high end restaurant (it's really quite good - or at least when I was there) are accepting that 2019 office occupancy, and the related hospitality industry, is simply never coming back.
On that point, there are reports that METRA ridership is 51% of pre-COVID level.
Finally, for the benefit of one who has never used Uber (or Lyft), I presume Uber Black is some kind of Livery Car Service they offer.
Well, there will be some change when you have such an upheaval. Go back to Baltimore, a lot of independent coffee shops and restaurants have closed for good. Offices are being abandoned, and there's not much of a draw there now. It may take a decade or more to fill them back up, and said businesses that depend on that office traffic can't hold out that long... if they have so far.
We see that in Chicago now with the Signature Room. I found their menu back in 2019, and at the time, it would be an easy $100 a plate before you get to the wine. It's definitely high-roller territory -- if they didn't have their own car and chauffeur, they would Uber Black or Lyft Lux Black -- basically for-hire limo service. A tourist is spending $1K or more to do that.
Which gets back to the commuter trains. If you're a high roller, you're not taking a commuter train with the white-collar riff-raff. No, you're taking your personal helicopter in to a private landing pad, going down to meet a hired limo, over to dinner, a show, then back by said limo or limo-flight combo. Lets cut that top-end out of the conversation... and the top-tier restaurants that charge north of $80 per plate. (Although, it would be nice to win the lottery, get fixed up, and meet the gospel singer that shares my first and last name for a dinner and a play...)
So what's left? What would draw people in on a regular basis to the cities, requiring the use of transit because sheer bulk of people?
In New York, you have Wall Street and the stock markets (although that's mostly electronic now), plus the UN.
In Washington, you have the federal government.
In Chicago... maybe the mercantile markets? But most of that's electronic.
In Seattle and San Jose, you have the tech sector, and even they are mostly hybrid.
Lets answer the question of the thread again. Will they ever return? As I said before, yes. But it's not the "they" we had pre-pandemic, and it's going to take a while.