City renewing ride-sharing program for residents - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

City renewing ride-sharing program for residents

July 18th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
City renewing ride-sharing program for residents

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

The City of Chandler is renewing its First Mile/Last Mile program to address the transportation needs of South Chandler residents. 

 City Council was expected to approve a contract for up to $50,000 with ride-sharing company Lyft at its July 14 meeting. That vote came after the deadline for this edition.

 Lyft has been picking up South Chandler residents and taking them to bus stations for more than a year. One end of the Lyft ride must be within a quarter-mile of a bus station to qualify.

  “I think it’s worked well for its intended purpose,” said Jason Crampton, the city’s transportation planning manager. “It was never intended to carry thousands of people every day. If we had that type of demand for transit down in that part of the city, we would need full bus service down there. So that was never its intent.”

 Crampton said the number of people using Lyft to get to and from transit centers has steadily grown, from a couple of hundred people a month when it first started in July of 2021 to about 500 a month now.

 Residents who use the service pay half the usual Lyft fare and the city pays the other half. The average fare paid by the city is $5.66. Through May, the program had cost the City $28,461 of the $50,000 set aside to pay for it.

 Crampton said the Last Mile program does not compete with the new service the city just started, Chandler Flex. That program also serves primarily South Chandler residents and will help them get to a mass transit station for travel outside the city.

 He said the Last Mile program gives users more convenience, but at a higher price. They can be picked up at their home and won’t have to share their ride with anyone. 

 The Chandler Flex program that started July 12 may require riders to walk a tenth of a mile to a pickup location. They also might have to share their ride with others. 

 For now, as the city introduces the service, Chandler Flex is free. If demand becomes too much and starts to impact the quality of service, they plan to charge nominal fees.

 “It’s a little different style,” Crampton said. “We will certainly monitor usage within the Chandler Flex service area and see how that changes. Maybe Chandler Flex will replace all that ridership in that area. Or maybe it’ll be two different populations that are being served and it won’t replace it.”

 The Last Mile Lyft ride can cost about $6. The Last Mile program also serves all of South Chandler, from Pecos Road to the city’s southern border. 

 The Chandler Flex program is based primarily in the Price Road Employment Corridor, although it does go a little further north of Pecos to cover Downtown and the Chandler High School area.

 Crampton said the programs allow the city to save a lot of money by not running bus service in South Chandler. He estimated it would cost between $3 to $6 million annually to start up bus service in that part of town.

  He said the Chandler Flex service is starting just when they hoped to get it running. Chandler Unified School District students are returning to classrooms on July 20. 

 He said it was always the goal to get the service started before that date. Students can use Chandler Flex for free even if they do eventually start charging others a nominal fee.

 “You know, it was almost a minor miracle that we were able to get this up and running as quickly as we did,” Crampton said, pointing to the supply chain issues that have been a problem nationally. 

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