Uber Bus? The Future of Public Transportation

by David Grasso, GenFKD

Beyond our major cities, many Americans live in low density suburbs, where an on-demand Uber bus could be the future of public transportation.

Some our cities are dense and walkable, and rich with public transportation options. But outside of our biggest metro areas, millions of us live in suburbs where public transportation is either in poor condition or nonexistent entirely. Further, most American cities are automobile-oriented, which makes getting to work extremely challenging for those who cannot afford a car or those who cannot drive.

In these low-density, car-based suburbs, bus service is patchy and rides are lengthy, leaving some our most economically disenfranchised citizens with few options. Additionally, there are disabled people, folks with medical conditions, and senior citizens who simply can’t operate a motor vehicle. This is where the advent of ride sharing technology has the power to change millions of lives.

Lower cost option for cities?

Public transportation systems in the suburbs that suffer from low ridership are especially expensive to run. That’s why low-density cities, places where the vast majority of their residents get around in private automobiles, are flirting with the idea of replacing their buses with subsidized Ubers.

Two cities in Florida, one in the Orlando area, Altamonte Springs, and one in the Tampa area, Pinellas Park, already have partnerships with Uber to help their residents get around by subsidizing trips within their city limits. Pinellas Park claims they’re already saving a fortune, since the program costs about 25 percent of the two bus lines that they phased out in favor of the subsidy program.

Bridj: The Uber bus

There’s a Boston-based startup named Bridj that functions like a private bus service, and is catering their services to local governments. Unlike a traditional bus, Bridj doesn’t have set routes and functions like most ride-sharing apps.

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