Operations

Lowering Costs with Ride Hailing

January 2018, Government Fleet - Feature

by Roselynne Reyes - Also by this author

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Pooling vehicles can lower fleet costs for some agencies. But what about eliminating those vehicles altogether? Washington, D.C., is an area known for its congestion. The capital is not very large, but it’s bustling with people, and parking can be hard to come by.

D.C. employees can use an assigned fleet vehicle, or rent one from Fleet Share, the district motor pool. But Fleet Share’s 97 vehicles are first come, first serve, and not always available for the district’s 33,000 employees. Limited parking spots can also mean circling the block looking for an empty space and paying for parking, which can add up quickly.

“While we love our job and we love what we are able to do, the fewer district vehicles on the road, the better,” said Washington, D.C., Department of Public Works Director Christopher Shorter.

The district is currently running a pilot program that aims to reduce the fleet and utilize vehicles already on the road. The pilot integrates electronic ride hailing through the DC Taxi mobile app. District employees hail a taxi through the app, and their ID cards are linked to the trip. The system processes trips automatically and assigns them to the employee’s agency, eliminating the need for employee reimbursement, expense reports, and invoice management.

Fifteen agencies are participating in the pilot program so far, with 744 D.C. employees and more than 100 taxi drivers enrolled.

The Department of Public Works and Department of For-Hire Vehicles collaborated on this project, with goals to maximize fleet funds, improve air quality, and revitalize the taxi industry. Both agencies have committed more than $100,000 to the pilot program, which launched in June 2017 and will continue through September 2018.

“This program is about innovation and reinventing transportation,” said Department of For-Hire Vehicles Director Ernest Chrappah. Chrappah noted that there is room for expansion, and as other apps become more integrated, the agencies will look at ways to incorporate them into the pilot.

Mobility: A Growing Trend

Washington, D.C. isn’t the only one looking at alternative methods of transportation.

The Modernizing Government Travel Act, passed in January 2017, allows federal employees traveling on official business to use ride hailing apps (e.g., Uber and Lyft) for reimbursement from the General Services Administration.

In May 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law HB2440, which aims to reduce the state fleet and promote increased use of ride hailing apps, for-hire vehicles (such as taxis and limousines), and rental companies. 

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