Everyone has seen how Uber has become a mega-successful business venture by replacing taxis and cabs.Its next big area for growth may come from replacing something else: Parking lots.
Monday morning in Summit, Uber and the city of Summit launched New Jersey’s first ridesharing commuter program, designed to help residents struggling with limited parking at an NJ Transit station.
Under the city’s program, Summit residents with prepaid parking permits are eligible for free Uber rides to and from the station during weekday commuting hours; residents without prepaid permits will be eligible for $2 Uber rides, which is equivalent to the cost of the City’s $4 daily parking.
Summit Mayor Nora Radest said in a release that she estimates 100 parking spaces will be made available through this program. As a result, she said, the city will not have an immediate need to build a new parking lot on public ground and will save an estimated $5 million in taxpayer dollars over the next 20 years.
“As an alternative transportation option, ride sharing is not new,” Radest said in the release. “But our program is the first of its kind in the United States to use ride sharing technology as a parking solution. Our innovation has the potential to shape how municipalities think about and implement parking options in the future.”
The partnership agreement took nearly a year to work out, Uber spokesman Matthew Wing said. But now that it’s complete, Wing said the company would love to roll out similar programs throughout the state.
“We are eager to find more partnerships,” he said. “This not only is the first partnership like this in New Jersey, but also the first partnership in the nation where we’re replacing a parking lot.
“That makes it a very unique model that can be replicated throughout the state.”
Uber New Jersey General Manager Ana Mahony said in a release that the company is eager to talk to more towns.
“When parking space at the train station ran out, Summit’s leaders wanted to solve the problem and help give Summit’s residents a modern transportation alternative,” she said. “We were happy to work with Summit to design this program and are always eager to help bring positive change and innovation to New Jersey.”
According to the release, the initial pilot program will start with up to 100 resident commuters and could be expanded if successful. Trips must begin or end within Summit or at the train station and be completed Monday through Friday between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.