Take a look at this brief 4-minute video that shows how transportation as a service can have a real and positive human impact.
Ridesharing company Via this week expanded to 24/7 service and doubled the number of D.C. neighborhoods where users can order rides, worrying cabdrivers who face increased competition.
“This is part of a big push we’re making in the D.C. market to be available to folks,” Via General Manager Alex Lavoie told The Washington Times.
The ridesharing company entered the D.C. market in 2016, and until this week, users previously could ride only during commuting hours along Metro’s Red line.
MGM National Harbor has quickly joined the ranks of the D.C. region’s most popular Uber and Lyft destinations in 2017, a year after the bustling, $1.4 billion casino opened its doors in Prince George’s County.
After opening last December, the suburban Washington resort quickly became Maryland’s most profitable casino, with 6 million visitors in its first year.
D.C. taxi drivers, struggling to hang on in an industry in decline, are getting a boost from the city in the form of subsidized fares.
They are ferrying foster children to school, taking cancer patients to treatment and helping veterans get to job interviews. The trips are subsidized by city programs designed to provide access to transportation for residents who are low-income and have special needs. The additional fares are a welcome source of income for cabbies, whose livelihoods have taken a hit with the rise of ride-hail services such as Uber and Lyft.
“Without these fares I would probably be out of business,” said David Turner, who has been driving a cab in D.C. for 15 years. “There is hardly any more flagging of cabs like there used to be. You don’t even see that anymore because everybody is going to the app now.”
In what some say is a first in the world, D.C.’s latest venture gives taxi drivers new business and simultaneously cuts its own costs.
As a program analyst for the city administrator’s office in the District of Columbia, Alexandra Caceres works with many agencies and often travels across the congested city for meetings. Every time she does, she has to reserve one of the two vehicles owned by her agency or, if those are being used, reserve a car from the city’s shared fleet. In either case, she has to schedule how long she’ll need the car, pick it up, drive to her destination and face the frustrating search for an elusive parking spot.
Well, that’s how she used to do it.
In June, D.C. launched a new transportation program that makes it much easier for city employees to get around for work. Now, Caceres uses a smartphone app to contact a taxi participating in the city’s “Vehicles on Demand” pilot. Within five to 10 minutes usually, a driver picks her up, checks her employee ID and takes her to her destination.
“It cuts the transportation time almost in half,” she says. “It’s quicker and easier all around.”