Why helping commuters pay for Uber makes financial sense for NJ town
SUMMIT — Each weekday, there are more people looking for parking than there are spaces.
For the past few months, the city has been working to ease some of the daily frustration by giving commuters an Uber ride to and from the train station. Residents pay the $4 that would usually go to their parking fee, and the city covers the rest — anywhere from $2.55 to $3 per ride.
"One solution would be to build a parking garage, but that's a $10 million minimum cost," said Mayor Nora Radest.
According to Radest, the test run has been wildly successful. She believes the program will continue after March when the pilot period expires; the question is whether the city will expand it.
The program is currently open to 100 resident commuters, and there's a wait list of 25 to 30 people, Radest said.
At $3 per ride for 100 commuters five days a week, the city would end up putting out $78,000 yearly.
With the program in place, up to 100 spaces have been "freed up" in the main parking garage and surrounding lots. They're no longer occupied by vehicles that are left there for 8 to 12 hours a day while their owners are working in New York City.
At the same time, Radest said, the program is cutting down on participating residents' commute times, as they eliminate the annoying task of searching for a spot and walking to the train station.
The first-of-its-kind program was the brainchild of City Administrator Michael Rogers, Radest said.
According to Uber, Rogers came up with the idea after learning that 23 percent of New Jersey Uber rides begin or end near a public transit station.
"We're passionate about collaborating with New Jersey leaders, organizations, and institutions to create better ways for all cities to move, work, and thrive," Uber said when the pilot program launched in October.
Radest noted the city has implemented other measures to relieve parking woes. Re-striped on-street parking last summer created another 14 spaces. Over the holidays, valet service was implemented in a parking garage near the commercial downtown area.
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