Uber an Unreliable Partner for Transit

Cities using Uber to supplement or replace public transit may find their dependence on the service detrimental to their cities, when prices rise and alternatives aren't available.
December 28, 2016, 1pm PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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In a piece for Slate, Henry Grabar argues that cities and suburbs subsidizing and depending on Uber may come to regret it. "Bus and train riders on the peripheries of Philadelphia; Oakland, California; Tampa, Florida; and other cities have been treated to a little luxury at the end of the commute: a publicly subsidized Uber ride home," Grabar reports.

This may seem like a good way to solve the "last mile problem," but there's a danger in using these private services is that there incentives may not always line up with that of city officials and transit riders. "…at the moment Uber and Lyft are subsidizing U.S. ridership, and one day they’re going to start profiting from it," Grabar writes. That means either higher prices are coming or these services will have to drastically change the kind of services they're offering.

Worse still, Grabar contends, "The rise of ride-hailing companies is increasingly viewed not as a fix for bad service but as its justification." That they can just take the Uber mentality is dangerously short sighted.

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Published on Wednesday, December 14, 2016 in Slate
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