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Old Posted Aug 3, 2018, 7:06 PM
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Where Ride-Hailing and Transit Go Hand in Hand

Where Ride-Hailing and Transit Go Hand in Hand


August 3rd, 2018

By LAURA BLISS

Read More: https://www.citylab.com/transportati...n-hand/566651/

Quote:
Ever planned to take the bus, but wound up calling an Uber? That’s what the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority did in 2016. That year, ridership across St. Petersburg, Florida’s fixed route bus lines plummeted by 11 percent—twice the drop PSTA experienced in the first year of the recession, and one of the deepest declines of any major U.S. system.

- Pinellas County constituents had recently rejected the concept of transit even more directly: PSTA’s one-cent “Greenlight Pinellas” sales tax proposal to spread bus service and build a light rail system bombed at the ballots in 2014. That forced the agency to eliminate some of its existing routes, and to rethink how it was doing business. So it called in the apps. To cover the areas it had left transit-bare, PSTA became the first agency in the country to subsidize Uber trips. --- Since its “Direct Connect” program launched in February 2016, PSTA has given $5 discounts on rides provided by Uber and a local taxi company (and as of more recently, Lyft) to and from 24 popular bus stops in its service area to as many as 1,000 riders per month.

- By and large, much of the North American transit industry would seem to agree. According to a report released this week by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, since 2016 at least 27 more communities across the United States have joined arms with Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNCs) to supplement or substitute traditional service—even as questions linger about the wisdom of undertaking these kinds of programs. --- Municipalities of virtually every size nationwide are dipping their toes into contracting with ride-hailing services. Washington, D.C., proposed a partnership with Uber as a transportation response to non-emergency 911 calls. Centennial, Colorado, offers free Lyft trips to light rail stations; Dublin, California, has across-the-board half-price Uber and Lyft fares.

- The most robust program in the country might be in Monrovia, California, where visitors and residents have reportedly taken more than 53,000 subsidized rides since its transit agency began offering $.50 rides on all Lyft trips within the city’s boundaries in March 2018. Others, like those in Boston and Las Vegas, are more limited, drawing on Uber and Lyft as platforms for paratransit that are easier to use for passengers and substantially cheaper for agencies to subsidize. --- In many ways, the same factors that pushed Pinellas County to the world of ride-hailing have pushed the rest of these cities: a desire to provide higher-quality mobility in areas where transit options fall short or where there’s not enough parking.

- There’s also a degree of brand-consciousness at play, said Joseph Schwieterman, the director of DePaul’s Chaddick Institute, who co-authored the report with Mallory Livingston, a DePaul graduate researcher. “Transit agencies can’t afford to become like the taxi industry and let the world pass them by," Schwieterman said. --- Working in tandem with Uber, Lyft, and other similar offerings is a way for transit agencies to insert themselves on the primary communication channel riders are already using—their smartphones—and could be a step towards reimagining the on- and off-board customer experience.

- These companies are notoriously protective of ridership data, which is a limitation for transit agencies trying to judge the success of these subsidy and tie-in programs. When PSTA signed its original contract with Uber, for example, “there was nothing in it about data,” said Bonnie Epstein, a senior planner at PSTA. --- Similarly, there’s nothing stopping Uber, Lyft, or any other private transportation company (including taxis) from raising minimum fares without notifying public agencies first. Uber has done this repeatedly in Pinellas County since the Direct Connect program launched in 2016. According to Epstein, some riders have complained that the $5 public subsidy is no longer as useful as the cost of the Uber becomes equal to (or greater than) the cost of a second bus ticket in addition to the one they’re already buying at their connecting station.

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Partnerships between transit agencies and ride-hailing companies have boomed since 2016. Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development/DePaul University

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cJt...ETdKGx8wz/view

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