​Uber partners with Jersey town to give commuters free rides

Instead of spending millions to build another parking lot, the city of Summit links up with Uber to shuttle commuters to and from the train station.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
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Summit Mayor Nora Radest during a press conference announcing a partnership between the city and ride-hailing company Uber.

The city of Summit, New Jersey

One New Jersey city has thought of a unique solution to the overcrowded parking lots at its commuter train station: Uber rides. Summit has partnered with the ride-hailing company to give residents free and subsidized rides to and from the station.

"When parking space at the train station ran out, Summit's leaders wanted to solve the problem and help give Summit's residents a modern transportation alternative," Uber's New Jersey General Manager Ana Mahony said in a statement.

Uber, the world's richest venture-backed company, has battled with regulators across the US over the right to drive city streets. Some cities, like Austin, Texas and Tampa, Florida, believe Uber should be more tightly regulated. But others, like Summit, are embracing the technology that lets passengers hail a ride with a push of a button on their phone.

Summit is near New York City and much of its residential population commutes there for work, but the city doesn't want to spend millions to build another downtown parking lot.

To solve this problem, the city's new program would give Summit residents with prepaid parking permits free Uber rides to and from the train station during weekday commute hours. Residents without a prepaid permit would pay $2 per ride to and from the station, which costs the same as the $4 daily parking fee. Summit will pay Uber the difference for the cost of these rides.

Summit officials estimate 100 parking spaces at the train station will be freed up through this partnership with Uber, which could save the city up to $5 million in not building another lot. The benefit for Uber is getting more people to use its service.

"As an alternative transportation option, ridesharing is not new," Summit Mayor Nora Radest said in a statement. "But our program is the first of its kind in the United States to use ridesharing technology as a parking solution."

This program is initially limited to 100 Summit residents during a pilot period from October 3, 2016 to March 31, 2017. If successful, the program could be expanded.