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Should Governments Subsidize Uber and Lyft Connections to Transit?

According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, technology network companies like Uber and Lyft offer a unique opportunity for low-income users to connect with transit routes and on to greater economic opportunities.
May 5, 2016, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Alfredo Mendez

Kevin DeGood, director of infrastructure policy at the Center for American Progress, and Andrew Schwartz, research associate on economic policy at the Center, have written a report exploring the potential of transportation network companies (TNCs) to provide social equity with access to mobility and all the opportunities that entails.

After establishing distance as the greatest barrier to access, DeGood and Schwartz note that TNCs "offer transit agencies the opportunity to experiment with different ways to overcome the last-mile barriers to connect people with the public transit system." The report that follows builds a case to subsidize the use of TNCs like Uber and Lyft for low-income users.

Historically, transit agencies have been unable to address these geographic gaps—especially because extending traditional fixed-route service into neighborhoods is cost prohibitive. Companies such as Uber and Lyft offer transit agencies a way to bridge last-mile gaps efficiently, allowing eligible residents to connect affordably to the public system.

The article describes the unique ability of the Technology platforms of TNCs to make subsidized connections to transit a reality before considering the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) in the Atlanta region as a theoretical test case.

Angie Schmitt also picked up on the news of the report for Streetsblog USA. Schmitt concludes that it's "interesting to see some analysis of how ride-hail-to-transit subsidies for commuters might work, [but] it’s still hard to discern a concrete benefit compared to plain old bus and train service."

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Published on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 in Center for American Progress
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