City mulls Uber-like service for Price Corridor SanTan Sun News

City mulls Uber-like service for Price Corridor

June 7th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
City mulls Uber-like service for Price Corridor
Community
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Transportation planners are recommending Chandler consider creating a ride-share service for residents living around Price Road.

Valley Metro and the city have spent the last few months studying transit options for the southern section of Price Road – an area known for its high employment density – and coming up with innovative ideas for daily commuters. 

One recommendation they have made involves creating a small fleet of taxi-like vehicles that would exclusively serve the region surrounding Price Road between Chandler Boulevard and Chandler Heights Road.   

The service would operate similarly to those offered by ride-share companies like Uber or Lyft. Residents and workers located around Price Road could request a ride through a digital application and be transported anywhere within the 18-square-mile service territory.

Riders could potentially request trips to high-traffic destinations like Chandler Fashion Center, the Intel campus, Snedigar Sports Complex or downtown.

Transportation planners believe a fleet of five cars servicing the Price Corridor could offer rides at a cheaper rate than what private, ride-share companies currently charge.

The service would potentially be comparable to a pilot program Glendale launched last year that offers on-demand rides in a specific region of that city.

Ryan Peters, Chandler’s government relations director, said the city regularly receives inquiries from residents living around Price Road who are interested in having more public transit options.

Although Valley Metro currently has one bus route through the Price Corridor, the city thinks an on-demand transportation service would offer more convenience for residents needing to get to specific destinations.

“We thought this was a more efficient, technology-friendly way to provide that service,” Peters said.

Chandler already has up to 3,100 bus boardings across the city each weekday and the city expects more people will want to rely more on public transit in the coming years.

A recent survey by the city indicated that more than 44 percent of Chandler residents want the city to prioritize investing funds in public transit and at least 18 percent expect to depend on transit as their primary mode of transportation in the near future.

Chandler, like most other cities in the Valley, has spent the last couple years examining how it could provide more “microtransit” – a term applied to new transportation modes that range in between personal vehicles and city buses.

One form of microtransit could be a small shuttle bus that transports a group of riders to specific locations within a predetermined service territory.

An analysis by the city indicates Chandler could see ridership increase by 14 percent if it incorporated more microtransit and ride-share services in the future.

Chandler has already begun to take steps to shift toward microtransit after the city partnered with Lyft last year to offer cheaper rides for residents living in south Chandler.

The Lyft partnership has resulted in more than 1,600 trips, generating a cost for the city that exceeds $7,700.   

The proposed ride-share service around Price Road could essentially operate similarly to the Lyft program, but without as much dependence on a private contractor.

Jason Crampton, the city’s transportation planner, said Chandler could still call upon Lyft or Uber to offer rides during peak hours in the Price Road service territory.

Rather than dispatch more city vehicles to circulate around Price Road, he said, the city might be able to have a private provider supplement some of the demand during certain times of the day.

The geographical layout surrounding Price Road makes providing public transit services a challenge, yet the city still sees a need for people to get around that region.

A Valley Metro survey shows that 64 percent of the people working in this region live outside the Price Corridor. About 30 percent live inside the area and must commute to work someplace else. 

The city estimates an on-demand taxi service around Price Road would annually cost Chandler about $650,000 to operate. The city could simultaneously save about $200,000 by cutting down bus routes.

In the last fiscal year, Chandler spent about $1.8 million on transit services – a significantly smaller amount than what other cities spend on transportation.

Scottsdale has spent more than $4 million of its general fund dollars on transit, Glendale has spent nearly $8 million, and Mesa spent more than $12 million on transit in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Valley Metro is still accepting public feedback for the microtransit options being recommended along Price Road and comments can be submitted by visiting the agency’s website.

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