PUBLIC TRANSPORT PARTNERS WITH RIDESHARING SERVICES TO CREATE MULTIMODAL OPTIONS
Not long ago, companies like Uber and Lyft were considered a threat to public transportation, but now, many cities and transit agencies are starting to work with these ridesharing services to create more multimodal options for their customers.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in St. Petersburg, Fla., realized the need for a partnership when they were looking to make service adjustments.
In response, PSTA created “The Direct Connect” program, which covers half the price of all trips made through Uber or United Taxi (up to $3) that start or end at a transit stop. In doing so, the agency expects to save at least $100,000 by paying for individual Uber rides, instead of running a fixed-route bus through those areas.
The pilot program began at the end of February and is currently in place in two zones within the county. Miller said feedback has been positive so far and that the agency is already planning to bring in Lyft as well. He hopes to expand the program to more areas and, eventually, to PSTA’s paratransit program.
Similar programs have popped up throughout the nation, particularly in Florida. In Altamonte Springs, Fla., for instance, the city began to subsidize 20% of all trips beginning or ending within city limits and 25% of all trips beginning or ending at a SunRail commuter station. This came about after a proposal for a bus line connecting to the station was rejected by Orlando, Fla.’s LYNX transit system.
There are a few factors that have contributed to this shift in attitude. Early partnerships with cities like Dallas and Atlanta have shown potential for such programs, and recently, the American Public Transportation Association released a study showing that Uber and Lyft users were more likely to use public transit frequently.
Although many of these programs seem to show promise, it is still too early to tell how effective these partnerships will be long-term. However, these agencies seem optimistic that Uber and other ridesharing services will continue to play a positive role based on the feedback they’ve received from passengers.