A New Jersey suburb of the Big Apple is now letting its commuters get Uber rides at a discount, or sometimes even free. The town in question is Summit, whose government has said it is going to subsidize Uber rides in an attempt to curtail crowded parking around the local train station. A press release put out by the government says that this move is going to save local taxpayers around $5 million USD over the next generation. The alternative would be a parking lot that costs the same but has to be paid for faster and would also eat up real estate that could otherwise generate more tax revenue.
Applications are now being accepted for the pilot program, which is going to be restricted to approximately a hundred locals for half a year. If the project is deemed a success, then it will be expanded to let more users in. The local government believes that it is the first such attempt in the nation to create parking solutions using ridesharing technology.
Train riders with a paid parking permit, which runs $4 per day, can get free Uber rides to the train station. Anyone who does not have a parking pass can get there with a $2 Uber ride. The government of Summit will handle actual fares for riders with parking permits and the fare difference for those without permits.
Even if this is the initial attempt to address parking issues with ridesharing subsidies, Uber is involving itself with a number of municipal governments to work out other issues. For instance, Uber and its main competition, Lyft, both want to work with the county government of Miami-Dade to subsidize commuter rides to a pair of train stations there, hoping to boost usage of mass public transit by making it easier for riders to get there.
Uber is following up with similar programs elsewhere in Florida, but also in the state of California on the other coast. In each of those instances, city governments are working in conjunction with private developers of real estate to provide citizens with particular benefits. Credits used or applied toward future Uber rides are offered as incentives in order to minimize parking congestion or to lure prospective renters into lease agreements.
In New Jersey, the city government of Summit says that multiple thousands of its citizens already employ the use of Uber regularly. Research indicates that more than a third of the rides are during commuting times of the morning and evening periods. There are limits on the subsidized rides, as they must begin and end within the city limits and the train station specifically. The subsidized trips must also happen Monday through Friday, but are not available after 9 in the evening or before 5 in the morning.