- The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has launched a pilot program partnership with ride-share company Lyft to improve commuters' first mile/last mile options in areas where residents might be too far away from transit for it to be a viable option. The partnership also includes integration with mobile payment software company Passport.
- Passengers who travel to or from two designated light rail stops via Lyft will receive from CATS a $4 contribution toward the ride-share trip. Trips must take place within a geo-fenced area to be eligible.
- Riders who use their Passport-developed CATSPass mobile app can receive the discount 40 times a month, and those who use the Lyft app can receive the discount twice a month. CATS expects the pilot to run through late fall this year.
The two light rail stations included in the pilot were chosen because CATS determined they lacked bus service connections. Limiting subsidized trips only to those within the geo-fenced area guarantees that the target audience — passengers who aren't near transit — receives the discounts and those in transit-rich areas can't take advantage of the program.
It's also more economical for the transit agency to focus on providing on-demand options than establishing bus lines to connect commuters to the light rail system. "It provides a good alternative in certain areas where it is not cost-effective to operate a route with multiple buses running all day," said John Lewis, CATS executive director, in a statement.
This pilot could boost business both for the transit system and for Lyft by increasing access to transit, convenience and affordability. These factors all can be barriers for commuters who then resort to single-passenger car trips instead of transit.
Lyft notes its business was created with the intention of reducing personal car ownership, and the transit partnership will advance that idea. "We know that by identifying multi-modal solutions to transportation challenges, we can have a better impact on the future of our cities," said Lauren Pelletier, market manager for Lyft in Charlotte, in a statement.