In a recent scan of state-level transportation conferences we spotted a noteworthy sign of the times. Some of these are strictly confabs of local transit agencies, others unite state DOTs, policy makers, transit and the contracting/construction supply industries to look ahead at projects and policies. Now, add Uber. With its business model still a work in progress, Uber isn’t forgetting the public sector as a potential market.
The ride-hailing giant is at the center of conversation at many of these upcoming conferences across the country. Uber will make plenary presentations at the Pennsylvania and Virginia state conferences in the next month. In Pennsylvania, it looks like Uber will pitch small agencies to subsidize rides to transit stops, as SEPTA does at commuter stations. In Virginia, it will present on different partnerships that Uber has with transit organizations nationwide. Discussion of “first/last mile” Uber service to transit was the subject of sessions at recent Arizona, California, and Texas conferences.
Last fall, TransitCenter released Private Mobility, Public Interest to provide a policy framework for cities and transit agencies facing the new, insurgent world of ride-hailing companies. The work touches on conditions for contracting, making negotiations two-sided and government reforms that can make the public sector more nimble in considering, entering and evaluating such partnerships.
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