A New Jersey town is giving commuters free Uber rides instead of a new parking lot

The city of Summit, New Jersey is turning to ridesharing instead of building new infrastructure for its commuters.

Starting Monday, residents of Summit with prepaid parking permits can secure free Uber rides to and from the Summit train station as part of a six-month pilot program. Those without prepaid permits can get the Uber rides for just $2 each way, which adds up to the $4 one-day parking pass.

The pilot program will begin with 100 commuters and will gradually expand.

Summit is launching the program in lieu of building a new parking lot. The City estimates the Uber rides will amount to the equivalent of 100 parking spots and will save $5 million in taxpayer dollars over 20 years.

Summit’s city administrator Michael Rogers told BuzzFeed that the deal will cost the City $167,000 a year instead of the $10 million it would cost to build a new parking lot. Rogers added that parking is currently very difficult in the morning, with commuters wasting 15 to 20 minutes looking for an open spot.

It’s an interesting approach by the City of Summit considering the future of driving is often seen as the death of car ownership, and with it, the ability to spend less on parking spots and garages.

Take Tesla CEO Elon Musk, for example, who wrote in his “Master Plan, Part Deux” that self-driving Tesla cars will be part of a shared fleet that can “generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation” instead of sitting in a lot.

That vision for driving is why companies, like General Motors with its $500 million Lyft investment, are channeling funds into ride-sharing along with autonomous driving tech. The idea is that car ownership will eventually die off with the rise of subscription-based, ridesharing services.

Now, the Summit and Uber partnership has nothing to do with driverless cars (at least not yet, since we know Uber is pushing a driverless future), but it hints at a future where city’s spend more on new forms of transportation instead of traditional infrastructure projects like parking lots.

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