Innisfil, a town of approximately 36,000 north of Toronto, Canada, has launched a first-of-its-kind ride sharing-transit partnership with Uber, in order to fill the gap in the town’s public transportation needs.
The “outside the box” solution should only cost the town an estimated $100,000 a year, far less expensive than the estimated $270,000 cost of maintaining a public bus system.
Innisfil will subsidise a portion of the fare for all trips, with riders only required to pay an average of $3 to get a lift with Uber Pool, within the town’s boundaries.
They will also get a C$5 discount on any custom trip within Innisfil, a lake-side Ontario town of about 36,000 people 100 km (62 miles) north of Toronto.
Uber Canada public policy manager Chris Schafer says the project has sparked global interest.
Tim Cane, the town’s land use planning manager, said Innisfil had been struggling to figure out an affordable transport model that would serve an area over 290 square km (110 square miles).
Mr Cane said the town council wrestled for years with the question: “How do we afford a transit model that on a good day would serve maybe 20% of the population?”
Senior Innisfil official Jason Reynar issued his staff the challenge, and the idea for a “demand-responsive transit service” was born.
Mr Cane said the town consulted with the three local companies early in the process and the programme was “never about Uber versus taxis” but about providing a service to residents.
“Let’s just try this on,” said Mr Cane. “Whatever service we provide is better than a service we don’t have.”
The community has set aside $100,000 for the programme’s initial 6-9 month phase and another $125,000 for the indeterminate second phase.
Uber has partnered with towns in other countries to solve their transit problems as well. Last year the city of Summit, New Jersey, USA partnered with Uber to subsidize rides into New York City for commuters who could not find parking at Summit’s transit station.
Portions of the above article were sourced from BBC news online.