Maybe because they look like oversized golf carts.
Maybe because they're another way not to drive drunk.
Or maybe because the cost per rider can be as low as a buck, the Tuk Tuk shuttles that have been providing rides in downtown Naperville for the past year are experiencing increasing demand, owner Bill Hamik says.
The shuttle transportation business Hamik started last October with two six-passenger electric shuttles now has doubled to include four vehicles giving an average 50 rides each weekday and 150 each weekend day.
Now the company is looking to expand by offering afternoon rides from the Naperville Metra station beginning later this month, potentially deploying a shuttle to the hotels and restaurants along Freedom Drive south of I-88. Also envisioned are Christmas light tours of decorated homes this winter.
Running the Tuk Tuks hasn't played out as expected for Hamik, manager Chris Parker and eight drivers, who thought the vehicles would shuttle people from parking garages to downtown dining or shopping destinations, helping relieve congestion. "We thought we'd be sitting on the streets waiting for people to come up and say, 'Hey, we need a ride to this place,'" Hamik said Wednesday. "Within weeks it turned into reservations and picking people up at their homes."
The Tuk Tuks had one of their busiest days June 30, opening day of Ribfest, when they gave 200 rides. On other days, they've driven high schoolers to dances, couples to dinners, families to gatherings and bridal parties to weddings. Rides cost $1, $3 or $5 per person, depending on the distance, and they are available only within a 2-mile radius from downtown Naperville.
The three-wheeled Tuk Tuks are still an oddity in the suburbs, where they are restricted to using roads with speed limits of 35 mph or slower. They have advertisements posted on their sides and flaps that can be lowered to shelter riders from rain or cold. Riders sit facing each other so some get a backward view as they head to their destination.
But Mayor Steve Chirico said people love them.
"I hear all kinds of positive feedback from the community," Chirico said. "People think it's really fun and festive."
Tuk Tuk customers can make reservations by calling or texting (331) 777-0332.