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Uber Partners with SF Real Estate Developer to Incentivize Residents to Try Car-Free Living

Image credit: Parkmerced

Between gridlock on bridges, freeways and surface streets and a frustrating dearth of adequate (or affordable) parketing options, anyone who’s ever lived in or around San Francisco can vouch for the fact that having a car is often more of a pain than a plus. 

Now, Uber is hoping to use this to its advantage and encourage tenants from a planned community in the City to leave their cars behind for a month: According to a recent blog post, Uber says the goal of this first-of-its-kind partnership with a residential developer will encourage new residents in San Francisco’s Parkmerced community, a collection of 8,900 apartments in the Outer Sunset neighborhood, to leave their cars behind by providing them with a $100 monthly transportation credit, offered by the owners of Parkmerced, toward multimodal transportation, which can be split between Uber and public transit (as long as at least $30 is put toward Uber). To make car-free living even easier for new and existing residents, the ride-sharing giant is also capping uberPOOL fares to and from nearby public transit stations (Daly City BART, Balboa Park BART, and West Portal MUNI) at $5. By getting more people into fewer cars, Uber says it can provide a more affordable alternative to car ownership.

Parkmerced, which is owned by Maximus Real Estate Partners, says this partnership with Uber will prevent it from having to create more parking spaces as it continues developing its property. 

"This partnership, and the creation of Parkmerced Labs, is a sign of our commitment to sustainable living at Parkmerced, which is the ideal community in which to develop this model, merging the innovations of Silicon Valley with modern residential development," said Maximus founder Rob Rosania. “The immediate benefits to residents will be to decrease or eliminate the need for private car ownership, facilitate a more efficient commute, reduce transportation costs, and minimize the need for parking.”

Uber calls the initiative "a building block for a smarter city future [that] exemplifies the creative ways in which Uber can make it possible for city dwellers to live car-free and the transportation network." The company also cited a recent report released by the American Public Transportation Association, which recommended better connections between public transit and transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft.

"It is great to see business and public interests aligning so that city dwellers can truly take advantage of a suite of mobility services, weaning people off of personal cars, and allowing cities to rethink parking needs," said Dan Sperling, founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.

Uber says in addition to the initial launch with Uber and Clipper, this collaboration will ultimately bring together additional transportation options, such as bike sharing and access to hourly car rentals, to create a comprehensive alternative to private car ownership. 

As millennials and younger drivers show less and less interest in car ownership, and rapid urbanization continues to fuel environmental concerns around emissions, automakers have caught onto the need to pivot around the prospect and potential of a car-free future in many cities: Ford, GM, BMW and Daimler have all launched car-sharing schemes. Meanwhile, key technological developments such as the rise of mobile broadband, widespread dissemination of smartphones, big data, and advances in electric vehicles and autonomous driving are enabling the emergence of an integrated mobility model called Mobility as a Service (MaaS), which promises to help further fuel the nascent disruption of the transport sector.

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