Sanford may offer Uber discounts to residents, visitors

If you use Uber to get around the Celery City, you may soon receive up to a 25% discount thanks to a partnership between the ride-sharing company and the city of Sanford.

The program would be modeled on a plan started by the city of Altamonte Springs in March. In fact, Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz is lobbying Seminole County cities to join Altamonte in adopting the program, as a way to reduce traffic, boost SunRail ridership and meet residents’ needs better than the regional Lynx bus system.

Sanford City Commissioners were receptive to Martz’s presentation at their May 9 meeting. They directed the city attorney to review Altamonte Springs’ agreement with Uber and instructed city manager Norton Bonaparte to put the item on the May 23 agenda.

Commissioner Velma Williams said she had never “Ubered,” but she wholeheartedly backed the plan.

“Someone told me they pick you up in less than 10 minutes and it cost $5 to go to the mall,” Williams said. “That’s great!”

The Uber discount works like this:

  • Prior to requesting an Uber ride, you must download the Uber app and create an account.
  • When requesting an Uber ride, you enter the appropriate promo code.
  • If your Uber ride starts and ends in Sanford, you receive a 20% discount.
  • If your Uber rides starts at the Sanford SunRail station and ends within the city limits (or vice versa), you receive a 25% discount.
  • Rides outside of the city would not be discounted (unless, of course, there is a countywide partnership).
  • Discounts are automatically applied and would be good only for the first $25 of the Uber ride (though to be honest, I can’t imagine you could rack up a $25 Uber ride staying in the city limits); therfore an Uber ride that began or ended at SunRail would cost the city no more than $6.25. A ride without the SunRail stop would cost the city no more than $5.
  • As an example, a couple of weeks ago I took an Uber from the Sanford airport to downtown Sanford. It cost $6.50. The city would have paid 20%, saving me $1.30.

Martz said Uber’s data indicates that if the discount program had been in place last year, Altamonte Springs (with slightly less population than Sanford) would have spent about $45,000. He added that even if his city’s residents double their in-city Uber rides it will still be a bargain compared to buying a single Lynx bus.

“A new bus costs $400,000, without paying the driver and without buying an ounce of gas,” Martz said. “Our cities in the county could run this program for four years at that price.”

Plus residents would go exactly where they want to go, when they want to go.

Martz’s proposal to the Sanford commission, would be to start the program on July 1 and run it for one year, at which time the program would be reevaluated.

If all of the cities and Seminole County participated, Martz noted the group could have better negotiating leverage and it would serve to attract visitors and employers to Seminole County.

In fact, Florida Hospital has agreed to commit $50,000 to Altamonte’s Uber program.

Based on the feedback at Monday night’s meeting, it appears to me that Sanford commissioners will jump on board the Uber program at their May 23 meeting. At that time city staff will provide specific details and identify a funding source.

For those unsure how Uber works, check out this video:


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