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This U.S. City Is Subsidizing Uber -- Here's Why

Altamonte Springs, Florida's first-in-the-nation test may be a harbinger of how suburbs expand their transportation system.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images News

In many cities around the world, ride-sharing service such as Lyft and Uber are treated, if not with a degree of hesitation by city government, at least with some degree of ambivalence. In Altamonte Springs, a small city of 42,000 in Central Florida, City Manager Frank Martz isn’t just welcoming the app. Along with Mayor Patricia Bates, he’s helping spearhead a new initiative that will pay the ride-sharing behemoth up to $500,000 over the next year as part of a first-in-the-nation pilot program. And the system set up to pay for rides — a unique municipal subsidy that pays 20 percent of any ride that begins and ends in the city, 25 percent if it begins or ends at the local light rail station — has already gotten others cities in the surrounding Seminole County interested in replicating it, even though it’s just started running yesterday.

“Seemed to us, if you can order a pizza using your cellphone, or transfer funds with you cellphone, you should be able to order a transit trip,” said Martz. “We were tired of waiting for Central Florida to move on transit, so we did.”

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