Metro

starts & stops

Uber says its service complements public transit

The Uber logo displayed on the back window of a vehicle in Boston.
Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File
The Uber logo displayed on the back window of a vehicle in Boston.

When Uber and Lyft first burst on the scene, some wondered if those newfangled apps would lure customers away from public transit.

But recently studies have said most people don’t completely ditch public transit in favor of ride-for-hire firms: In fact, Uber says a lot of its riders use the service to get to and from public transit.

Using data from March 10 to April 10, Uber officials found that more than 40 percent of trips from two of its cheaper services started or ended near a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway or light rail stop.

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Chris Taylor, Uber Boston’s general manager, said he believes cities work best with more transportation options.

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“This data solidifies what we’ve suspected for quite some time,” he wrote in a statement. “A lot of people are using our lowest-cost options to get to and from MBTA stations.”

Most people who use Uber opt for its UberX or UberPOOL services. UberX typically allows drivers to use their own personal vehicles, rather than vehicles with commercial plates such as livery or taxicabs, which makes its fares much lower than cabs’. UberPOOL typically drives prices down even farther, since customers split their rides with strangers.

On UberX, 41.4 percent of trips started or ended near a T stop, according to the monthlong data. And on UberPOOL, 42.2 percent of rides started or ended near a T stop.

The data comes as ride-for-hire firms get cozier with public transit agencies. In March, the American Public Transportation Association released a study that revealed people who use Uber and Lyft — the biggest players in the ride-for-hire game right now — are more likely to use public transportation.

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Public transit agencies are also looking to forge more partnerships with ride-for-hire companies. Altamonte Springs, a suburb of Orlando, became the first city in the country to pay for a portion of Uber fares within its city limits, according to Uber.

Boston wants to get in on the act, too. The MBTA wants to give disabled users a chance to use companies such as Uber and Lyft on the agency’s dime through its para-transit program, the Ride.

Transit déjà vu?

It was an unlikely pick for a Republican governor’s cabinet: The respected head of the Conservation Law Foundation, an aggressive environmental advocacy group that forced the state to agree to several big-ticket transportation projects to make up for the effects of the Big Dig.

Former colleagues of the fervent transit advocate were shocked when they heard the administration could ax of one of those landmark transit extensions because it was getting too expensive.

Sound familiar?

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Sure, it’s the current tale of Governor Charlie Baker, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, and the embattled Green Line extension project.

But in the early 2000s, it was also the story of Governor Mitt Romney, Development Secretary Douglas Foy, and the Greenbush commuter rail project.

In 1990, the Conservation Law Foundation — then led by Foy, a tireless environmental advocate — got the state to commit to a number of transit projects to offset the Big Dig. That included the embattled Green Line extension that’s all over the news today, but also a commuter rail extension into Scituate called the Greenbush line.

In 2003, the Romney administration was considering backing out of the Greenbush extension. In a story from July that year, the Globe quoted Foy — by then in Romney’s administration — saying the 1990 agreement allowed the state to cancel certain projects. The story juxtaposed that with Foy’s litigious comments from his former life: “If they fall off the wagon, we’re right back in court the next day,” Foy once said.

And who else was quoted in the story as saying that the Conservation Law Foundation could be back in court if the administration reneged on the transit commitments?

None other than Pollack, the whip-smart pragmatist who took over as the head of the Conservation Law Foundation after Foy joined the Romney administration.

“If the administration is going to try to get around building Greenbush, they’ve got a fight ahead of them,” Pollack said in 2003. “If there are better options on the same corridor, they can apply to do that, but saying they don’t have enough money is not a good enough excuse.”

For anyone following Pollack’s recent comments about how the state may back out of the Green Line extension, it may all sound too familiar.

The Green Line extension — on hold for more than a year after significant cost overruns — is still in a state of limbo, as it still faces a series of critical hurdles before construction starts again.

For what it’s worth, the Greenbush line eventually got done: Even after those environmental issues and protests from locals, the line — which ended up costing the state $519 million — started running in 2007.

Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.