Tips for Transit in the Age of Uber

Hate it or love it, Uber has changed the transportation game across this country. To boost ridership and change its public image, transit should consider taking some cues from the rideshare giant.

Read Time: 2 minutes

June 22, 2016, 12:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Mobility

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Uber isn't universally beloved by any means, but its Silicon Valley disdain for the way things are done has brought it massive success, especially in cities where it supplements and competes with public transit. This piece gives us three ways transit can learn from Uber. Accompanying GIFs of current and former presidential candidates Clinton, Bush, and Rubio may make all of this more palatable. 

Here are the three lessons:

  • Transition to app-driven payment. "When you get in an Uber, you don't pay fare like you do on a bus. You just start moving. When you reach your destination, you don't fumble for cash and wait for change like you do in a taxi. You just get out." This creates a "magical feeling" transit would do well to replicate in the iPhone age. 
  • It's easier for a digital startup to tweak frequencies, but that doesn't make this aspect of customer service any less essential. "With much fanfare, Austin introduced bus services that come every 15 minutes at peak times and every 20 minutes off-peak. For Uber, by contrast, a passenger waiting 15 minutes for service is considered a failure."
  • Horror stories aside, Uber places a priority on driver courtesy and quality of service. The author recommends that "transit agencies could incorporate a method for customers who pay by app to rate their rides and use information to grade and improve drivers. This would require a massive–but necessary–change in how agencies relate to their drivers and customers."

Friday, June 17, 2016 in Market Urbanism

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Aerial view of dense single-family homes in neighborhood still under construction

How Virginia Counties Use Zoning to Stifle Development

Some state legislators are proposing action at the state level as counties block development using zoning and development requirements even as housing prices rise sharply in the region.

January 23, 2023 - The Virginia Mercury

New York City Coronavirus

The Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Remake Downtown

Urban cores around the country were transforming into live, work, and play destinations before the pandemic. The pandemic was a setback for this transformation, but it could also be a rare opportunity. It’s up to city leadership to seize it.

January 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Rendering of red seven-story student housing building with students walking in open grassy plaza in front of building

L.A. Times Editorial Board Calls for CEQA Reform

The Board argues that the environmental law, while important, has too often been ‘weaponized’ by NIMBY groups to delay or halt housing development.

January 31 - Los Angeles Times

Seattle buses in line at a depot with Seattle skyline in background

Seattle Brings Free Transit to Public Housing

Linking transit programs to housing can lower administrative costs and streamline the process for riders.

January 31 - Route Fifty

Broad street in downtown Columbus, Ohio with two pedestrians in crosswalk

Columbus Could Lower Downtown Speed Limits

The city council will vote on a proposal to lower speed limits to 25 miles per hour to improve safety and make downtown more walkable and welcoming to pedestrians.

January 31 - The Columbus Dispatch