Several public sector transit agencies have begun to partner with TNCs to either augment, assist, or even replace their existing service.
Pinellas County in Florida developed the first US partnership with a TNC, doing so in response to drastic service cuts the agency made due to low ridership. Instead of cutting service to some areas entirely, Pinellas Suncoast Transit began discounting Uber rides $5. Similar partnerships have begun to take shape across the country. While these have been mostly in smaller cities, Boston has begun using Lyft and Uber to provide conventional paratransit service, citing significant cost savings over handling the operation in-agency (Schwieterman, 2018).
Santa Monica Big Blue Bus is partnering with Lyft to offer a “Blue at Night” service, which discounts up to 20 shared rides at $3 each to and from Expo Line Stations on Friday and Saturday nights from 8:00 PM to 3:00 AM (Big Blue Bus, 2018).
As substitutes, a shift from a city providing fixed-route, fixed-schedule bus service to on-demand subsidized TNCs can drastically reduce overall ridership. Bruce Schaller cites the situation in San Clemente, where the city contracted with Lyft to provide service on two recently-eliminated bus routes (2018). At last measure, daily bus ridership in those two corridors was 650 passengers. Lyft as a replacement, however, is averaging 70 daily riders, an 89-percent decrease. While this may ultimately be a net savings for the transit agency, it does represent a shift in mode or reduction in mobility for previous bus riders. Schaller aptly argues that TNCs should be used as extensions to transit service, not as replacements.
Uber in Denver
Boston Paratransit contract
Programs that Indirectly Promote Transit
Lyft Complete Streets