Public transportation – a vital artery for the movement of goods, services, and people – has been hit particularly hard during the coronavirus epidemic. As cities and countries restrict movement and gatherings of people in order to flatten the curve, transit ridership has fallen precipitously. Despite this, public transportation agencies have mounted a Herculean effort to keep their cities up and running while working with limited resources.

As the situation continues to develop and these agencies find themselves needing to temporarily reduce or suspend service, Uber Transit stands ready to help transit agencies to provide essential transportation services to those who need it the most. We’ve mobilized our transit team towards assisting cities impacted by COVID-19 such that transit agencies can utilize our technology and rideshare network to get people where they need to go. Whether it be transporting essential workers, maintaining service for recurring medical appointments, or getting people to and from grocery stores while they “shelter-in”, transit agencies can work with Uber to have customized programs up and running in as little as 48 hours.

Supporting cities to fill the gaps

In places where fixed-route or demand responsive services need to be cut back or suspended, transit agencies can temporarily fill service gaps by offering subsidized Uber trips to their riders. By tapping into our platform, these subsidies can be customized using a number of criteria including location, time of day, and day of week. The amount of the subsidy can be capped and agencies have flexibility in setting the fare.

For example, Innisfil, Ontario recently launched a COVID-19 response plan to provide its residents with a $20 in-app voucher for any trip within Innisfil through early April. In addition, the Town established an “Essential Trips Assistance Program” to give riders four free trips to select locations that include grocery stores, pharmacies, and wellness centers.

Transit agencies may also choose to subsidize trips for a select group of people. This can be useful in offering qualified individuals on-demand paratransit services, or to offer discounted or free trips to essential workers. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s Transportation Disadvantaged program, for example, uses this technology to offer late night workers who purchase a monthly bus pass (and meet an income threshold) 25 free on-demand trips to get to and from work when bus service is not available.

Central dispatch

Subsidized trips can also be arranged for riders by transit agency staff. After receiving a trip request over the phone or by other means, agency staff are able to book Uber trips on behalf of riders through a web-based reservation system called Uber Central. These trips may also be subsidized by the transit agency.

As the current situation continues to evolve, transit agencies can count on Uber Transit to support them in delivering critical transportation services to their communities. Please reach out to us at for more information.