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How Uber And Lyft Are Working To Replace City Buses

How Uber And Lyft Are Working To Replace City Buses
Cities

The ride sharing platforms have pioneered programs in the US to rethink the last mile of transit

Leo Lutero
  • 19 august 2016

Uber and Lyft, the two leading car hailing services in the US, are working with cities to replace buses to solve the last mile problem in public transportation.

The car hailing service, Uber especially, and government love story follows a pattern. First, the service begins with a small number of users in an area. Then, they get too popular for urban planners to just shrug off which triggers a variety of responses: a ban, heavy regulations, fixed limits, a warm welcome even. Now, a new chapter to this story is unfolding. In several US neighborhoods, the government and car hailing services are now working hand in hand.

Uber and the Florida’s Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority struck a deal last February for subsidized rides. Everyone who gets an Uber from underserved areas to join PSTA lines get 50% off rides for a maximum of $3. A community in Colorado is taking it a bit further with Lyft by offering free rides to transit lines (fees are shouldered by the government). This on-demand service will replace the current dial-a-ride program which costs the city $21 per rider, Citylab reports. The urban planners hope it would be far cheaper to work with Lyft.

This idea to redirect the burden of the last mile to private car-hailing services app is catching on. This Skift report says the Miami-Dade County in Florida is applying for federal grant money which includes $575,000 for subsidized Uber and Lyft rides to two train stations. The subsidies, the application added, will ensure that the growth of these ride-sharing companies will include low-income neighborhoods.

With widespread adaptation in crowded centers, these car-hailing apps are beginning to conquer less-than-metropolitan areas in a newfound niche: the last mile.

PSFK has seen other state-funded last mile solutions including the proposal for autonomous vehicles in Singapore. However, cities working with already established Uber and Lyft services means the minimization of starting costs. The trade-off, however, is the risk. Private companies are inspired by profit while government programs run for the public benefit; when margins drop someone could lose.

Lyft | UberPTSA

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