DC could subsidize Lyft, Uber rides when subway is closed at night

February 20, 2019

To combat loss of public transportation service at night during scheduled maintenance, Washington, D.C.'s Metro subway system could subsidize Uber and Lyft rides to make up for the inconvenience.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday on the potential plan, which is in the drafting stages currently. The subsidies would provide up to $3 off per ride, but only for Metro workers. The program would not apply to people out for recreation and is meant to help those in need of transportation for work in the healthcare or hospitality industries, for example. The trip must also take place between midnight and 4:00 a.m. and the rider must be traveling to their home or workplace. Subsidies would be capped at 10 rides per worker a week.

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Riders would need to register for the program to ensure they meet the criteria listed above for the $3 subsidies per ride. Right now, the measure will be proposed as a stop-gap to provide residents another option while Metro plans to cease late-night operation for maintenance work. However, some fear Metro could cancel late-night trips altogether. The public transit group said the number of trips taken during the 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. period don't justify keeping the 117-mile system open during the late-night hours.

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D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser opposed the idea and said Metro must commit to restoring its late-night hours.

Metro said it's basing the potential program on the success some other cities have had with Lyft and Uber subsidies. For example, Detroit offers $7 ride-sharing service credits on some routes to make up for gaps in the city's bus system. In the San Francisco Bay area, the local transportation authority provides $5 credits for riders heading to commuter rail stations. The latter, however, is supposed to link ride-sharing with public transit, not replace it.

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