Lyft, CapMetro and others unveil ‘Ditch Your Car’ program

Annie L. Zhang

Lyft, Zipcar, Capital Metro and Austin B-cycle join forces to reduce your need for a car.

“Ditch Your Car” is a program that just started Monday where 50 participants receive credit for utilizing ride-hailing and public transportation services.

Aaron Fox, Lyft’s general manager for Central Texas, said Lyft’s mission is to reduce human dependence on cars.

“The idea is that (participants) put their car keys in a box and use other services to get around to see how life is without cars,” Fox said. “This program can see how the average person adjusts and lives without a car.”

Chad Ballentine, vice president of demand response and innovative mobility at CapMetro, said the program will also help the companies understand what customer needs are.

“Public transportation has been around for hundreds of years, but we haven’t really innovated,” Ballentine said. “But if we want to maintain our viability and our relevance, we need to adapt and engage like these other folks who are thinking outside of the box, and look at them as strategic partners rather than competition.”

The various transportation services are coming together to find an integrative solution, Ballentine said.

“We know that the bus is obviously a very important part of people getting around, but there’s a whole lot more to it,” Ballentine said. “If you actually ditch your car, the bus may get you close to places, but other places it can’t get you so close.  We have to rethink how we approach customers and not just make them choose these options on their own, but help them assemble some options and help them problem solve.”

One possible solution is a “one-stop” service for all forms of transportation.

“The future is going to be a lot more integrative, where you might be able to buy monthly passes for everything and then you can have a Lyft car waiting at the CapMetro bus stop and a scooter outside of your office to take you back,” Fox said.

One pass for all ride-hailing services could complement the existing transportation services here on campus, Fox said.

“Obviously, UT has a huge bus service with CapMetro, but we want to be able to take you from your front steps to exactly where you want to be because that’s what people want,” Fox said.

Ballentine said such an integrative service would also help to eliminate the traffic around campus.

“It would be wonderful to get more cars out of campus because UT is in the middle of a major city that’s getting so big so quickly,” Ballentine said. “We need to find ways to take cars out of the equation.”

Both Ballentine and Fox said while they still do not know what exactly the future of transportation looks like, they look forward to analyzing and learning from the data and information.

“That’s why we’re doing this pilot program — to test out the waters,” Fox said. “That’s the fun part, hearing from customers and people who actually get out of their car and use these services and try to understand what do people want and what people would be paying for.”