Kyle approves plan to subsidize ride sharing program

After months of research and discussion, Kyle city leaders May 7 finalized a plan that could solve public transportation woes in town.

By a 6-0 vote, the Kyle City Council approved the creation of a possible city-subsidized ridesharing program with Lyft, a global ridesharing company. Officials anticipate city staff analyzing and researching a Kyle-centric plan that could be further crafted by city council members.

City leaders anticipate including the program in the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget discussion.

Kyle’s plan could mirror a pilot program recently enacted in Georgetown.

Kyle Chief of Staff Jerry Hendrix said Georgetown spends $25,000 annually for its Lyft program. Through the program, Georgetown puts $10 toward each Lyft ride for participating residents who can use the app for 10 rides per month. Residents who use the program must pay a mandatory $2 fee per ride.

If a ride costs more than $10, Georgetown requires those residents to pay the difference. A ride that would normally cost $15 would only cost a resident $7, per the Georgetown program.

“We talked to their transportation coordinator in Georgetown,” Hendrix said. “They really like their plan and are considering keeping in on the budget.”

Hendrix also cited a public-private partnership between Lyft and Monrovia, California. That program, GoMonrovia, charges residents $1 for shared rides, $3.50 for a “classic” ride anywhere in the city. Rides to the city center in Monrovia costs $.50.

An average ride-sharing trip in Kyle costs $6 to $8 to get to H-E-B and $12 to $15 for a ride from north to south of town.
The idea of a city-subsidized ride sharing program derived from a special committee that researched ways for transportation that can help serve the retire and disabled populations.

That committee was created after city council member Alex Villalobos resurrected public transportation talks in 2018 following several failed attempts that came at high cost and served few people.

“With the increase in population, we’re going to have more than half a million (people) in Central Texas that are 65 and older,” Villalobos said. “We looked at how to supply a service that supports independence for a certain age group or somebody that may be mobility impaired.”

Villalobos said he supports Kyle creating a deal with Lyft that features a lower cost to residents, or could cover the majority of rider cost.

However, city officials said securing enough drivers to support the program is a problem that must be solved before it moves forward.

Lyft drivers work independently and are scarce in the Kyle area, officials said.

City staff will be creating an analysis to discover how many drivers live in the area or near Kyle.

“This is a really nice program and I hope we can figure out a way to implement this,” said Council Member Daphne Tenorio.

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