The Florida Department of Transportation agreed to give the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) a $300,000 grant for a program designed to ease the lives of the transportation-disadvantaged within the Pinellas county.
Under the program, the elderly, the disabled and low-income families will be entitled to one free Uber ride during daytime per month.
One other piece of good news is that you won’t need a smartphone or a credit card to hail a ride. The PSTA announced eligible friders will use a platform through which the agency will book a ride for them.
“It’s the only way you can use Uber without a smartphone or a credit card,”
said a spokesperson for the agency in a press release.
The local transit authority will be the first customer of the platform dubbed Uber Central.
The service will be available in early July. Only county workers that earn $17,655 or less per year will be allowed to use the service. Also households with four members that earn $36,375 or less will also qualify.
Additionally, Pinellas county shift workers will be able to book the rides from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m up to 23 times per month. They can also book daytime rides if there’s a medical emergency but only once per month.
The program was designed to help low-income employees who need late night transportation but they don’t own a car or have other means of personal transportation at their disposal.
These riders are granted a free ride during daytime only if there is a medical emergency or an ill child that needs to be taken from school.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes hailed the program for attempting to provide disadvantaged people with “near real-time transportation services.” Disabled people now no longer have to fear that they won’t get to destination though they had booked a taxi ride a day ahead.
Sen. Brandes noted that too many seniors and disabled people are left waiting outside their physician’s office waiting for a cab. The senator has been a long-time challenger of public transit and he is actively seeking alternatives for transportation-disadvantaged residents. He believes that the future transit will be autonomous, eco-friendly, on demand, and versatile.
The new program will run a year and if it proves successful it will be extended.
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