What If I told you that SEPTA and Uber, two of the largest transportation services in the city of Philadelphia, were teaming up like when LeBron James went to the Miami Heat? Yes, you’ve heard right.
“SEPTA’s ridership has grown over 50 percent in the last 17 years,” said SEPTA Director of Innovation Erik Johanson. “Particularly in the Regional Rail system, we have very limited parking capacity in some of our stations. We are getting to the point now where we can see ridership plateauing and we can’t figure out ways of getting people to our stations. We think that Uber could fill a gap for us for people who live too far from the station to walk and are frustrated by the fact that our parking lots are full.”
According to SEPTA’s statistics ridership report, ridership is down 1.3 percent in the last year. Total trips are down 1.9 percent in the last year. That may not seem like a lot, but put it into perspective. According to SEPTA.org, over 306 million people take septa per year. That means that the 1.9 percent mentioned earlier is in actuality 3.6 million riders lost. In the same report, it states that gas prices have been steadily declining in the last year, dropping as low as $1.89 per gallon. Also take into perspective the inclement weather issues this year, it’s no surprise that SEPTA’s numbers have dropped off and are in need of a boost.
That’s where Uber can come in.
Uber is one of the fastest-growing ride service applications in the country. As where SEPTA is only limited to Southeastern Pennsylvania, Uber is global. According to Philadelphia Magazine, Uber has totaled over one million rides in Philadelphia since coming to the city in 2014. Uber is a great alternative for transportation if you don’t feel like waiting for a taxi and don’t have a car.
“We’re thinking about co-branding a partnership with signage and advertising,” said Johanson. “Uber is kicking around the notion of giving a discount to people over the summer to try it out within a certain radius around the station. All the details are still being worked out, but the key is that people are considering combining ride sharing and transit.”
SEPTA is trying to revamp service and customer pleasure. They are still in the works of introducing a new payment method, essentially skipping over an era of a “metro swipe card.”
“It’s a tap technology,” said Johanson. “We installed this little iPad looking things all throughout our stations. It’s a FOB college dorm system. You hold your card under the scanner and pick your name out of the contact list. We are looking to add it to smart phones as well.”
So how do the two companies compare up against each other? See what Johanson, Uber Driver Jessica Crosby, and my friend of 16 years/Philadelphia Commuter Chris Linvill had to say in the video below.
“A lot of people say bad things about Uber and some of the incidents we’ve had, but it can happen anywhere,” said Crosby. “You could have a crazy taxi driver, you could be on SEPTA with someone that is crazy, and I just feel like anything could happen at any time.”
Temple University Student Chris Linvill, whom I’ve known for 16 years, has used both forms of transportation and continues to do so, but he notes that he likes SEPTA better and thinks that it is safer.
“I would say SEPTA is better in my opinion because you can pretty much get anywhere,” Linvill said. “It’s very cheap, as opposed to Uber where it tallies up when you take multiple rides. With SEPTA, you can pretty much get anywhere in the Philadelphia area which is a plus. I would say Uber is more dangerous because it’s a car and you’re relying on some stranger to take you somewhere.”
It’s always important to be safe and feel comfortable while you are traveling. Check out the pros and cons of SEPTA and UBER plus additional tips on how to make your next commute a safe and comfortable one.