The City renews its carpooling program for residents

By Ken Sain
Chief Editor

The City of Chandler is renewing its First Mile/Last Mile program to meet the transportation needs of South Chandler residents.

The city council was expected to approve a contract of up to $50,000 with ride-sharing company Lyft at its July 14 meeting. This vote took place after the deadline for this edition.

Lyft has been picking up South Chandler residents and taking them to bus stations for over a year. One end of the Lyft ride must be within a quarter mile of a bus station to qualify.

“I think it worked well for its purpose,” said Jason Crampton, the city’s transportation planning manager. “It was never intended to transport thousands of people every day. If we had that type of transit demand in that part of town, we would need full bus service there. So that was never his intention.

Crampton said the number of people using Lyft to get to transit hubs has steadily increased, from a few hundred people a month when it launched in July 2021 to around 500 a month now.

Residents using the service pay half the regular Lyft rate and the city pays the other half. The average rate paid by the city is $5.66. Through May, the program had cost the city $28,461 of the $50,000 set aside to pay for it.

Crampton said the Last Mile program does not compete with the new service the city has just launched, Chandler Flex. This program also primarily serves residents of South Chandler and will help them get to a transit station to travel out of town.

He said the Last Mile program offers users more convenience, but at a higher price. They can be picked up from their home and won’t have to share their ride with anyone.

The Chandler Flex program that began July 12 may require passengers to walk a tenth of a mile to a pick-up location. They might also have to share their ride with others.

For now, as the city introduces the service, Chandler Flex is free. If the demand becomes too large and starts to impact the quality of service, they plan to charge a nominal fee.

“It’s a little bit different style,” Crampton said. “We will definitely be monitoring usage in the Chandler Flex service area and seeing how that changes. Maybe Chandler Flex will replace all that traffic in that area. Or maybe it will be two different populations that will be served and it will not replace them. »

The Last Mile Lyft ride can cost around $6. The Last Mile program also serves all of South Chandler, from Pecos Road to the city’s southern border.

The Chandler Flex program is based primarily in the Price Road employment corridor, although it does go a bit further north in Pecos to cover the downtown and Chandler High School area.

Crampton said the programs save the city a lot of money by not running bus service in South Chandler. He estimated that it would cost between $3 million and $6 million a year to start bus service in that part of town.

He said the Chandler Flex service was starting just when they hoped to get it working. Chandler Unified School District students return to class on July 20.

He said the goal was still to get service started before then. Students can use Chandler Flex for free even if they end up charging others a nominal fee.

“You know, it was almost a small miracle that we were able to put this together. and run as fast as we do,” Crampton said, pointing to supply chain issues that have been a problem nationwide.

Ryan H. Bowman