Courtesy PSTA

Courtesy PSTA

Fla.’s Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and Uber are partnering for a one-year pilot program, called TD Late Shift, which will offer disadvantaged residents in Pinellas County free, on-demand rides when the regular bus service ends.

“We are solving age-old transportation barriers with technology, innovation and Uber,” said Brad Miller, PSTA CEO.

The $300,000 grant-funded pilot demonstration, awarded by the Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (TD), is aimed at helping low-income, unemployed residents overcome transportation barriers to employment. With this new program, riders can request up to 23 free rides per month between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Rides must be to a place of employment or residence.

“This is what the future of transportation in Pinellas County looks like,” said Miller. “It’s multimodal, high-tech and on-demand.”

PSTA was the largest of five grant recipients chosen to demonstrate bold and innovative solutions for TD customers. The goal of this specific pilot is to develop and implement a model that can be replicated statewide and show a need for more robust funding of similar programs long-term.

“Expected outcomes go beyond simply providing rides to customers during non-service hours,” said Miller. “We are hopeful to be able to show a direct local economic impact by creating new opportunities for unemployed residents who were previously unable to get jobs because of a lack of transportation.”

PSTA first publicized its relationship with Uber earlier this year when the two transportation providers launched Direct Connect, a six-month pilot program that connects people to bus stops for a subsidized rate. Now, PSTA is expanding that program to span across the entire county offering unlimited, on-demand Uber and Taxi rides for approximately $1.