Seminole cities, Maitland look to expand Uber discount program

Residents in select Seminole County cities and Maitland may soon find it easier to visit Sanford’s growing craft beer and food scene thanks to a 20% Uber discount program.

The cities of Sanford, Lake Mary, Longwood, Altamonte Springs and Maitland began a pilot program last year that offered discounts for those using Uber. Each city paid the discount for Uber rides that began and ended with its city limits. However, rides between cities, for example from Lake Mary to Sanford, were not eligible for discounts.

That is expected to change as the cities look to extend the pilot program for another year.

Under a proposed plan, the program would work like this:

  • If an Uber ride originated in Longwood and ended in Sanford, the city of Sanford would pay 20% of the the fare. When the rider travels from Sanford back to Longwood, the city of Longwood would pick up 20% of the fare.
  • Additionally, if a ride begins or ends at a SunRail station, the discount would be 25%.
  • The cities would also continue to subsidize rides that stayed within their city limits at the same rates as the inter-city discounts. Each city would be responsible for paying their own costs for those rides.
  • Cities would not pay more than $5 for each ride, regardless of the total fare.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Robyn Esser, a partner at Sanford Brewing Co. “We track where our customers are coming from, and we’re seeing big numbers coming from outside of Sanford. This program makes it convenient and safe for our customers, and they don’t have to find a place to park.”

The purpose of the discount program is to reduce traffic on local roads, boost SunRail ridership and meet residents’ needs better than the regional Lynx bus system.

Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz began lobbying for such a program in March 2016. He told Sanford City Commissioners last year that the program would serve residents more effectively than the Lynx because they can go exactly where they want to go at the time they want to go.

“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.”

Sanford Finance Director Cynthia Lindsay estimated the total cost for the pilot program during the last year was $10,000.

Before the new inter-city discounts can begin, each city commission will have to approve the program. Those governing bodies are expected to vote on the matter during their meetings in August.

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