Reliable and accessible mass transit is a critical component of urban mobility, even as technology advances and new transportation options like rideshare are used by more people every day. At Uber, we believe that ridesharing and public transportation go hand-in-hand.
That’s why I’m proud to announce our company’s support for Sound Transit Proposition 1, which would greatly expand mass transit options and accessibility throughout the region. Passage of Prop 1—commonly known as ST3—would be a significant and overdue step toward putting in place the comprehensive transportation system the Seattle area needs. Endorsing ballot measures isn’t something we have typically done at Uber, which indicates how important we think this is.
In addition to telling readers of this blog why we’re in favor of Prop 1, we’re also communicating to our area’s riders why the ballot measure deserves support. Prop 1’s goals are congruous with those of Uber: reduce congestion and pollution by moving more people with fewer cars, and provide better mobility options for all people living in the region.
Across the country we’re growing our partnerships with transit agencies to enhance public transportation. In Los Angeles we’ve offered $5 off an UberPOOL trip that begins or ends at an Expo Line Station. In Colorado, Uber and Denver’s Regional Transportation District teamed up to offer discounts on passengers’ first two Uber rides that start or end at stops along the new University of Colorado A Line. And in Massachusetts, eligible riders participating in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s On-Demand Paratransit pilot program can receive discounts on an Uber trip.
More locally, we’re currently partnering with King County Metro in the Emergency Ride Home program, which gives riders on certain Metro plans up to eight trips with a ridesharing company in case of emergency, and we have worked with the City of Seattle to supplement public transit options during traffic disruptions like the viaduct closure.
We also know that ridesharing can complement public transportation by providing a reliable and convenient first and last mile solution. Today in London, 34% of Uber trips start or end within 200 meters of the Metro. In Paris it’s 65%. To help encourage this type of integrated use here in Seattle, we’re running a pilot promotion this week where our riders are encouraged to take flat-fee trips to and from the University of Washington light rail station and Eastgate Park and Ride.
In the 5 years since we launched here, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the use of our platform—for errands, as part of a commute, to safely get home after a night out, and to extend affordable transportation options into historically underserved communities. Simply put, many people have made Uber part of their daily lives.
During those same 5 years, use of local mass transit has has also steadily increased, outpacing both employment and population growth. According to the Puget Sound Regional Council, area transit ridership has grown 13% since 2011. And since the opening of the Capitol Hill and University of Washington Link stations in March, light rail ridership in particular has consistently seen monthly year-over-year increases between 50% and 80%.
So here in Seattle, we have evidence that it’s possible for the use of rideshare and mass transit to significantly grow simultaneously. This is good news from our perspective, but it’s perhaps even better news that the circumstance is not unique.
In March, the American Public Transportation Association released a survey of 4,500 people across the U.S. confirming that those who routinely use shared modes of transportation—like bike-sharing, car-sharing and ridesharing—are more likely to use public transit. Furthermore, these people are less likely to drive, more likely to walk and save money on transportation overall. The survey also shows that people who use ridesharing in conjunction with mass transit are more likely to forego car ownership.
This is the future of transportation. There will be less car ownership and people will come to rely more on a mix of mass transit and other transport options to get where they need to go, even as self-driving vehicles become a bigger part of the picture.
Uber is dedicated to the future of cities—to making transportation reliable everywhere, for everyone. What we provide will just get us part of the way there. To fully realize the vision, we need strong partners among transit agencies and local governments. This is why we’re urging voters to support Sound Transit Proposition 1.
Brooke Steger is the general manager for Uber in the Pacific Northwest. A modified version of this post appeared in the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Photo courtesy Bruce Englehardt