The Metropolitan Council is considering expanding travel options for Metro Mobility customers to include ride-hail services as an alternative to Metro Mobility’s current Premium on Demand taxi service.
At the March 9 Transportation Committee, committee members voted to move the proposed contract forward to be awarded by the Met Council at its March 25 meeting.
Met Council approval would fulfill one of the final recommendations in the 2018 legislative report from the Metro Mobility Task Force to examine a system that includes more travel options. The goal is that Metro Mobility customers have the same convenience as anyone who uses a mobile app to hail a ride to get to work, to school, to social events, or wherever they would like to travel.
The selection panel is recommending two contract awards. One contract would go to our current taxi provider, Transportation Plus, to pilot a customized iHAIL application to provide ride-hail services at a reduced rate for Metro Mobility customers. The second contract would go to Lyft. The Lyft contract will include accessible vehicles for customers who use a mobility device, like a walker, or who need a lift or ramp.
National trends show on-demand services are transforming
Rethinking on-demand transit for customers certified under the Americans with Disabilities Act is a national trend with cities like Boston, Dallas, and Richmond embarking on similar pilot projects. In Minnesota, Dakota County entered into a public service partnership in 2019 with Lyft to provide another transportation option for people who receive home- and community-based services to get to and from work and community activities.
The Met Council will evaluate the outcomes of each provider’s unique proposal as it relates to the system as a whole. The pilot projects will measure market potential, operational impacts, and customer experience.
Adding service options creates a more diversified system that has the potential to expand customer choice, improve the capacity of the current Metro Mobility system, and reduce the average cost per trip.
The proposal evaluation panel included members from Metro Mobility and Metro Transit, the MnDOT offices of diversity and mobility management, and the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
The current Premium on Demand service allows a Metro Mobility customer to take a taxi trip at a discounted rate. The customer is responsible for paying the first $5 of the cab fare and all costs over $20. Metro Mobility will pay up to $15 of the taxi fare. With the Met Council’s approval, customers will have this same opportunity using Lyft.
In 2017 the Minnesota Legislature established the Metro Mobility Task Force to examine the Metro Mobility program under Minnesota Statutes, section 473.386. In support of the goals outlined in Chapter 3, Section 140, the Task Force examined options and methods to increase program effectiveness and efficiency, minimize program costs, and improve service, including through potential partnerships with taxi service providers and transportation network companies.
Transportation Plus, the Met Council’s current premium on-demand service provider, has served the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for over 40 years with the recognizable Airport Taxi, Yellow Cab, and iHAIL vehicles. These services are designed to get passengers anywhere they need to go, whenever they need to go there.
Lyft was founded in 2012 and provides millions of rides daily as one of the largest and fastest-growing transportation networks in the United States and Canada. The Lyft transportation network brings together rideshare, bikes, scooters, car rentals and transit all in one app.