Transit + Ridesharing: Uber partners with Caltrain to create POOLtrain

February 6, 2016

Ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber are a great complement to high frequency, long distance transit corridors. They provide an affordable, fast last mile option, especially in areas where connecting bus service is infrequent or non-existent.

Even outside of large events, taking an uber to get directly to the Ferry building, or a Lyft as the last mile connection from a BART station is a pretty great way to avoid needing to drive a car to get around the Bay Area.

For Super Bowl 50, Uber has partnered with Caltrain to create what they are calling “POOLtrain”. They have added support for UberPool at all Caltrain stations for riders going to or from each station.

pooltrain

Uber claims that 80,000 Uber trips started or ended within 100 meters of a Caltrain station during a one month period last July. With most of the Peninsula being sprawling single family homes, not particularly walkable and poorly served by local transit, its not surprising that ridesharing is a popular way to access Caltrain, the major regional transit provider. With traffic on the parallel Highway 101 and 280 being increasingly worse, Caltrain represents a great way to avoid hours spent sitting alone in a car moving slowly.

The “POOLtrain” will only be available the week of the Super Bowl, Jan 30 – Feb 7, 2016. Perhaps if it spurs enough interest in UberPool it will become permanently available on the peninsula. If that happens, it would be interesting if Caltrain stations feature signage and designated areas for ridesharing pickups and dropoffs.

The partnership between a transit agency and uber is also interesting. Many transit agencies view ridesharing as a competitive threat. For agencies that provide high-frequency, long distance transit, especially along congested corridors, ridesharing is more of a complement making it easy for people to forgo driving entirely.