Commuting is a big part of every day life in the United States, but while it may be one of the most defining characteristics of this time—providing benefits that the earliest generations did not have—commuting is also a major headache. The population continues to grow and that means there are more and more drivers on the road every year, which means we continue to need more cars and more roads.
But there is only so much space, and that presents a particularly interesting conundrum—how do we improve the commute for everyone without building more roads (or parking spaces)?
Well, the town of Summit, New Jersey might have found a possible solution. According to Summit Mayor Nora Radest, offering free Uber rides to commuters instead of driving their own vehicles. Mayor Radest estimates that this six-month pilot program could free up 100 parking spots (every day) and, more importantly, save taxpayers $5 million over the course of 20 years.
However, it begins with only 100 commuters. The program will provide the first 100 with free Uber rides to and from the Summit train station. However, those who are not able to take advantage of these free rides could get $2 rides—one way—to and from the station. The parking pass at the station costs $4 so while riders will not be saving any money, it will free up the spots they would have normally occupied.
Radest comments, “As an alternative transportation option, ride sharing is not new; but our program is the first of its kind in the United States to use ride sharing technology as a parking solution. Our innovation has the potential to shape how municipalities think about and implement parking options in the future.”
The partnership in this agreement took the better part of the last year, explains Uber spokesman Matthew Wing. But, he says, now that they have reached the agreement, the company can look forward to rolling out similar programs throughout the state (and maybe even further).
Wing testifies, “We are eager to find more partnerships,” he said. “This not only is the first partnership like this in New Jersey, but also the first partnership in the nation where we’re replacing a parking lot. That makes it a very unique model that can be replicated throughout the state.”