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A San Francisco housing complex is subsidizing Uber rides

Parkmerced residents can get $30 or more as part of a transit stipend.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
May 19, 2016
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While some communities aren't so sure about ridesharing, an upscale development is actually paying residents to use it. Parcmerced, a planned apartment complex in the southwest corner of San Francisco, has partnered with Uber to encourage residents to ditch their cars. The townhouse and apartment complex offers a $100 transit subsidy toward bus and train services, but residents must spend at least $30 of that on Uber rides. The remaining $70 (or less) can be used on a Clipper card, which gives users access to the BART and Muni light rail services.

Parkmerced is well away from any transit hubs, but the community has established a flat $5 UberPool rate with Uber to nearby BART and Muni stops. (However, it won't contribute more than that for any Uber rides.) Depending on how often you need to travel to San Francisco, that might cover a handful of trips into the city, including public transportation.

One of the largest single-owner neighborhoods in the US, Parkmerced is touting the effort as a way to "bridge people to car-free living," the developer told SFGate. "The long-term goal is to de-emphasize car use, bring Muni [a rail service] into the neighborhood and use 21st century solutions to transportation." However, it's also a cost-cutting measure, as Parkmerced plans to provide just one parking space per housing unit, half of what is normally set aside for such developments.

The experiment is a first for Uber, which says that "by literally picking up where public transportation drops off, Uber is helping give people the benefits of car ownership without the hassle or expense." The idea also fits into recent studies showing that car ownership can be reduced if ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber can cover the "last mile" of your journey. "This is definitely cutting edge," says UC Davis transportation professor Dan Sperling.

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