Florida Town to Subsidize Uber

This isn’t strictly related to self-driving cars, but it came across the wire and is fascinating.

Altamonte Springs, Florida, (near Orlando) has chosen to subsidize Uber in leiu of building new roads.

The hope is that subsidizing Uber will encourage people to use mass transit.

“It is infinitely cheaper than the alternatives,” said Martz, whose city has a population of about 43,000 and median income of $50,000. “A mile of road costs tens of millions of dollars. You can operate this for decades on $10 million.”

The logic here is that Alamonte Springs is home to many commuters who ride public transportation into Orlando. However, just getting to public transportation can be a pain. The train and bus stops may not be close to a person’s house. So the city will subsidize Uber rides within town, to help people get to their bus stops and to the train station.

It might not be as crazy as it sounds.

For a while, my wife worked in a suburban office right next to the DC Metro’s Red Line, exactly between two Metro stations. Unhappily, the office was 1.5 miles from each station, which was just far enough to make Metro impractical. So she drove every day, even though her office literally overlooked the Red Line.

Maybe this service can solve that problem.

There are lots of objections to this project, but I suspect much of that is because people don’t like tax dollars “subsidizing” a huge company like Uber.

In this case, though, it’s probably more accurate to think of the city as contracting with Uber to offer a better in-town public transit service.

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