Uber sure does love its surge pricing, a real-time system that raises ride costs when demand is high. Many of us have relented and purchased a ride that costs twice as much. But what if you could find an Uber and have it cost less than the standard rate? One Florida town is doing exactly that with a system of subsidized Uber rides.
If you're in the small town of Altamonte Springs, Florida, some 10 miles north of Orlando, then give their system a spin. Currently, the town covers 20 percent of any ride beginning or ending in Altamonte Springs, and that jumps to 25 percent if the ride begins or ends at a local commuter rail station.
The city set aside $500,000 for this subsidy after being denied $2 million from the Florida Transit Authority to build a demand-based bus system that would ferry residents to and from the aforementioned train stations. Both systems are (or were) meant to increase ridership on the new light rail system, SunRail, which connects certain parts of central Florida, including Orlando.
While it's not exactly an on-demand bus system, it shows that cities are no longer willing to just give up when the public sector won't throw down additional coin to flesh out the infrastructure. Curbed reports that it only took about four months for Uber and the city to come to an agreement and put a system in place.
Altamonte Springs' coupling with Uber isn't the first public-private transportation partnership. Lyft, a rival to Uber, has worked with the city of Los Angeles and the Xerox company on the Go LA app to help get residents and visitors across the west coast city. A Lyft spokesperson told Curbed that the company is also speaking with "large-city transit systems about a variety of partnership opportunities, some of which would include subsidies for passengers."