The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is partnering with Uber and United Taxi to help address a very common barrier to public transit use: easy access to a bus stop. Often called the “first mile, last mile” conundrum, transit agencies all across the U.S. find that getting riders to a bus stop is the first step in turning them into public transit users.
“Once we make it easy for someone to get to the bus stop, riding the bus becomes a real transportation alternative,” says PSTA CEO Brad Miller. “PSTA is always looking for ways to deliver value to our riders and the community, and this partnership with Uber and United Taxi does exactly that.”
PSTA’s new program, called Direct Connect, allows riders to use Uber (in Pinellas Park) or United Taxi (in Pinellas Park and East Lake) to travel within a specific geographic zone to or from a series of designated stops. From there, riders can connect with the regular PSTA public transit bus system. On the return trip, they can use Uber or United Taxi to travel from the designated stop back home or to work (within the zone).
With this unique partnership, the first of its kind in the nation, PSTA will pay half the cost of the Uber or United Taxi ride, up to $3.
“PSTA is showing true leadership by entering into an innovative partnership that is among the first of its kind in the nation,” says Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) “This technology offers a great opportunity to mass transit providers and expands access to transit for Pinellas families. I hope that other providers in our region and throughout the state will follow the lead of PSTA and embrace this technology that Floridians have come to expect in their communities.”
Brad Miller (PSTA), Nick Cambas (United Taxi), Christine Mitchell (Uber Tampa Bay), and Bill Jonson (City of Clearwater/PSTA Board member) cut the ribbon launching Direct Connect service in Pinellas Park and East Lake.
The service launched with a ribbon cutting event at Pinellas Park Transit Center on Monday, February 22, 2016 and will run on a six month pilot basis. If successful, PSTA will consider expanding this new, innovative service.
“We are proud to partner with PSTA on our shared mission of improving access to safe, reliable transportation options for Pinellas Park residents,” says Christine Mitchell, General Manager for Uber in Tampa Bay. “By helping to bridge the gap on the first and last mile for commuters, this innovative public-private partnership will compliment and extend the reach of the existing transportation infrastructure in the region and open up more opportunities in the community.”
“We’re so glad to be working with old friends to serve our community in a new way,” agrees Nick Cambas, principal owner of United Taxi. “The people on United Taxi’s management team, myself included, have devoted their careers to the ground transportation service industry in Pinellas and surrounding counties. Doing so has given the team a variety of opportunities to work closely with PSTA, building a relationship that is decades long and strong. PSTA’s Direct Connect exemplifies the ideal public-private partnership: PSTA reduces its costs, our drivers have increased business opportunity, and the public benefits by saving time and money. I call that a Win-Win-Win.”
To learn more about this new service, please visit www.psta.net/directconnect.