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Last week we posed a simple question with a complicated answer: Is Uber friend or foe to transit agencies? We concluded that transit agencies could capitalize on Uber by using them to eliminate the first-and-last mile challenges with the use of an integrated system.

But that’s all just theory, right? Well, we’d like to show you how agencies are turning theory into practice.

Our first example is with Atlanta’s very own MARTA. The leading agency saw an all too familiar issue with their service – addressing the first and last mile of a riders commute. With nearly two-thirds of riders using smartphones today, MARTA partnered with Uber to offer a solution to this challenge (Source: Mass Transit Magazine).

MARTA took it a step further and found a way to make transit a choice. The agency was also able to offer Wi-Fi to their riders at no additional cost. Tapping into unused bandwidth on their 4G surveillance system, MARTA delivered free Wi-Fi on their entire fleet so riders can easily browse the web or coordinate their trip.

MARTA isn’t the only agency ready to take the leap. Recently, DART partnered with Uber to create an improved experience for their riders.

The partnership was first tested at Dallas’ annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. In preparation for the celebrations, DART temporarily partnered with Uber and MAAD to encourage riders to find a safe ride home by using a combination of public transit and an Uber ride. The trial was a massive success that led both groups to discuss a more permanent partnership.

Fast forward a few months, Uber and DART officially announced their partnership integrating DART’s mobile ticketing system with Uber. Riders can access Uber directly from DART’s mobile app to quickly plan their trip using both services. The partnership aims to help riders who cannot easily access their transit stops which, you guessed it, addresses the common first/last mile issue.

We’ve seen that Uber can prove to be a successful partner, but we all need to face one simple truth: Uber is not the only (and maybe not even the best) solution. It is most likely part of the overall solution.

Your agency needs to provide the right technology to your riders. Providing modern technology, like Wi-Fi, and reliable real-time data makes your fleet more appealing and more accessible to your riders. With the right technology, you can once again make transit a choice.

Do you think that Uber has the potential to partner with your agency or does it simply pose a threat to the transit industry? What ways would you possibly like to see Trapeze facilitate integration with Uber for your agency?

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), October 31, 2016

After the success of the first partnership of its kind between Uber and a public transit system, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) is expanding that partnership from the initial small pilot area to span across Pinellas County.

Wednesday, the PSTA Board of Directors unanimously approved new contracts with Uber and United Taxi, and for the first time with the ridesharing service Lyft.

Branded as Direct Connect, the second pilot program is designed to give low-cost Uber, Lyft, or taxi rides to designated bus stops to allow more citizens access to PSTA’s primary bus lines.

“It’s really impressive that PSTA has been in the forefront of the transit industry in launching the first true first-mile/last-mile program and we’re proud to partner with PSTA,” said Danielle Sipf, senior operations manager with Uber Inc.

“The national recognition we received as being one of the most innovative transit systems with our Uber partnership has been great,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller. “Our real focus continues to be how we can use these new technologies to benefit our thousands of transit customers. By providing $1 rides to and from our bus lines, we hope to attract an even wider customer base to use public transportation as their preferred mode. This is the future of transportation and we’re happy to be the leaders as it benefits our community.”

The 6-month program will officially launch in mid-December. Riders will pay an average of $1 to use the program to travel to the nearest designated bus stop where they’ll continue to their destinations on the bus. PSTA is providing a $5 discount per trip under the program.

”It’s exciting to work with our partners like Uber and taxis on this innovative program that benefits our customers,” said PSTA Board Chair Darden Rice.

September 19, 2016

Public transit agencies across the country are entering into partnerships with ride-sharing service Uber to supplement their service.

The partnerships range from direct subsidies for Uber riders heading to transit stops in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area to joint marketing in Philadelphia and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. The programs make sense for both groups because they both get increased ridership, officials say.

Uber couldn’t be reached for comment on the programs, but transit agencies said the partnerships have helped to increase ridership on their systems.

In Florida, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority ran a six-month trial that began in March during which the authority supplemented half the cost of an Uber rider’s trip up to $3 to or from a transit stop in a small, underserved part of its system. Media liaison Ashlie Handy said the deal with Uber wouldn’t allow her to release exact numbers, but the program was so successful that beginning Oct. 1 it will be expanded throughout the authority’s service area.

“What sold the program for me was when we got a call from a woman who wanted to know how to get to the bus stop that was more than a mile away,” Ms. Handy said. “Before, we had no other answer for her than to walk, but now she can use Uber.”

The program actually saved the authority money because it eliminated two little-used routes in the area that cost about $140,000 a year. The Uber subsidy cost $40,000.

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