via Digital Trends
The idea for the ride-hailing company’s new trial to offer subsidized fares to commuters came not from Uber but from the small city of Summit, New Jersey, BuzzFeed News reports. Reluctant to spend millions of dollars on a new downtown parking lot, the city council approached Uber with a more cost-effective solution to help make life easier for commuters heading into New York City.
The “virtual garage” pilot program, which launched on Monday, is set to last six months and involves 100 Summit residents. A ride between home and the train station costs $2 each way, equal to the $4 fee for a day’s parking. Summit, population 22,000, covers a relatively small area so the journeys should be relatively quick, enabling each Uber driver to make multiple runs.
The test run will free up parking for 100 cars, and cost infinitely less than what it would cost to build a new parking lot. This is part of a larger trend that the proliferation of ride-sharing is starting to fuel – fewer privately owned cars on the road, means more room for cities to turn areas formerly devoted to cars (i.e. parking lots) into spaces that people can enjoy.