PSTA offering new programs with Uber, taxi cab company

Free or $1 rides offered to low income riders
Posted at 5:15 PM, Jul 20, 2016
Getting a ride to and from work in Pinellas County could soon be a lot easier, especially if you work the night shift.  
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is rolling out a new partnership with ride-share app Uber and a local taxi company.
Lee Bonner uses a combination of a bicycle, PSTA bus, and Uber to get to and from work.  While it sounds like a lot, it's actually made his commute easier.
"I'm able to ride the bus during the day, use Uber at night.  It's very convenient," said Bonner.
Now, more low-income riders, designated as "transportation disadvantaged", will be able to take advantage of free or low cost Uber and taxi rides to get  to the bus or to work.
"Mobility is a big issue that I think Pinellas County is dealing with, and I think they are looking for efficient ways to help residents here move from point A to point B and we're excited to be part of that," said Cesar Fernandez, senior public policy associate with Uber.
PSTA will do that in two ways.  With a new program called TD Late, which starts August 1, low income riders will be able to request up to 23 free Uber or taxi rides a month between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., when buses aren't available.  This fall, it will expand "Direct Connect" which will let all passengers catch an Uber or taxi ride for just $1 to the bus stop, for the first or last mile of a trip.
"What's so wonderful about this is that Uber and United Taxi are both embracing that opportunity and know that they both have a very important role in providing reliable and equitable options," said Chris Cochran, PSTA senior planner.
To take advantage, you can use the Uber app with a coupon code PSTA emails you.  If you don't have a smart phone or credit card, you can call United Taxi by phone.
PSTA says at least 6,000 current riders are eligible, and anyone else who meets the income guidelines can still apply.  In the long run, it hopes the new programs will help people who rely on public transit to get and keep good jobs.
"What we're really looking forward to seeing with this TD Late Shift program is how many people are now actually able to go out and get new jobs they weren't able to get before, and that's going to be an exciting opportunity for us to see the economic impact it has for these transit dependent people," said Cochran.
If you'd like to learn more, or apply for the free and discounted ride programs, call (727) 540-1900.