Strange Bedfellows: Ride-Hailing Companies and Public Transit
St. Petersburg, Florida, like other cities, saw its transit ridership plummet as ride-hailing companies became more popular in their community. But today, rather than simply competing, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PTSA) is also subsidizing ride-sharing and ride-hailing. "Since its 'Direct Connect' program launched in February 2016, PSTA has given $5 discounts on rides provided by Uber and a local taxi company (and, as of more recently, Lyft) to and from 24 popular bus stops in its service area to as many as 1,000 riders per month," Laura Bliss reports for CityLab.
This pattern has played out in cities around the country, where there are more than 25 programs like St. Petersuburg's around the country. But some worry about transit agencies sending funds and riders to ride-share. "These companies are notoriously protective of ridership data, which is a limitation for transit agencies trying to judge the success of these subsidy and tie-in programs," Bliss reports.