The RIDE is a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) paratransit program designed to provide transit service for qualifying travelers. Because of the required level-of-service it is required to deliver, it has historically had a significantly high operating cost, which increased even as ridership remained level. In order to reduce costs, and to improve the overall quality of transportation offered, the MBTA implemented a pilot project in October 2016 to partner with Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) Uber and Lyft. The pilot allowed customers to book trips through the companies' respective proprietary apps as well as through call-center booking. For each TNC ride, the MBTA would effectively provide riders with a discount of up to $13.
- RIDE trips that users booked with Uber or Lyft were significantly cheaper to the MBTA, representing a cost savings of 85 percent each: The average cost per trip of traditional RIDE journeys was $59, while the average cost per trip of TNC trips was only $9.10.
- By encouraging customers to take trips with TNCs where possible, the MBTA was able to reduce overall spending on the program despite a 30 percent increase in total trip volume. Further, by leveraging the flexible pickup scheduling technologies of the TNCs, the MBTA was able to make RIDE trips significantly more convenient for customers, saving a total of 21,000 hours across more than 100,000 total trips.
- The MBTA has also reported a strong improvement in customer experience, based on internal surveys.
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