Uber and Lyft have been striking agreements with transit agencies, mostly for so-called “first-last mile” programs — meant to shuttle commuters to bus or train stations. As of last year, Uber has scored public transit agreements with San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, among other cities. Uber and Lyft have also been edging into public transportation services, like transit for disabled people or low-income residents who need rides to work or the grocery store. Last month officials in Washington, DC proposed having Uber respond to some 911 calls for ambulances.
Critics worry that if these programs succeed, they could pluck the affluent commuters who wield real political influence off trains and busses, leading to a crisis of declining ridership and decreasing clout for traditional public transportation.
The past year has seen a surge in public officials interested in giving the companies taxpayer dollars for public transit contracts. companies find it appealing especially in low-density communities like Altamonte where running traditional mass transit can be expensive.The pilot program is unusable for people without a smartphone, credit card, or a disability.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick envisioned a future where increasing efficiency would make Uber cost-competitive not just with owning a car, but with traditional mass transit. When drivers drop off a customer only to pick up another, chained together in a “perpetual trip,” Kalanick said, “not only is it much less expensive than taking a cab or owning a car, it has the potential to be as affordable as taking a subway, or a bus, or other means of transportation. And that’s what we believe is the real game-changer. Those are the things we’ll be working on in years to come.