Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s collaboration with online car services – Lyft is the latest – is a national first. Dallas transit users can now complete their door to door trips with help from these ride-share service applications that show up within DART’s own app.
For some Dallas transit users, light rail has been a fast, affordable solution to reach a destination. But that’s only part of the equation. At the annual public transit meeting being held this week in Dallas, DART CEO Gary Thomas lays out the bigger problem.
“How can I get from my house to the transit center?” Thomas asks. “And I’m not going to walk the four miles I need to get there. Maybe I can ride my bike but that’s dangerous when I have to ride on the shoulder of the expressway.”
Thomas’ solution? Transportation partners.
DART is the nation’s first public transit system reaching out to taxis, flexible auto renter Zipcar and ride share services Uber and now Lyft. On DART’s mobile GoPass app, users see those services right there to help them get from the station to their final destination.
“I can almost say with certainty, total certainty, that others will be following,” says Art Guzzetti, policy vice president with the American Public Transportation Association. “I know at our national meetings where we convene transit systems from all over the country, Dallas is talking, and other people are listening. Dallas has put the right partnership together, the right web platform together, to accomplish that goal.”
San Antonio’s VIA transit system is now trying too, according to Richard Gambitta, who’s a VIA board member.
“Uber and Lyft have just negotiated to start in San Antonio, so VIA is negotiating to get an agreement for the last mile, the last five miles, or in San Antonio, the last 10 miles,” Gambitta says.
San Antonio hopes to negotiate fares for ride-share providers. It also wants Uber and Lyft drivers to serve all neighborhoods. Emily Castor, the transportation policy director for Lyft, says the Dallas service will be affordable but a specific fare structure wasn’t worked out.
“Our mission was to try to make transportation available on demand to everyone and it’s not an elite service or a luxury service,” Castor says. “It’s something people can use to connect to other people in the communities.”
She says a mile or two Lyft ride from a DART station, to work or home, should cost a few bucks, maybe five.
DART’s Morgan Lyons is careful to say this collaboration improves the ease of travel. But riders still have to arrange, and pay separately, for the ride share service. And there’s no DART discount.
“We’re like Switzerland when it comes to integrated mobility,” Lyons says. “We simply want to work with everybody. We refer to it as a collaboration because money’s not changing hands. They’re trying to create a new experience for their customers. We’re trying to do the same thing.”
DART says innovations will continue. Making payments through one app instead of several is one goal. Making bike-share connections easier is yet another.