Imagine calling Uber for a ride from your place in Novi to a Livingston County watering hole, where you and friends can enjoy a few drinks with none of you having to be the “designated driver.”
Safe plan, right?
Sure. But getting back home — better figure out something else.
That’s the major inconvenience three women reportedly had to deal with after a recent night on the town in Brighton when they found out there’s no Uber pick-up service anywhere in Livingston County.
You can get a ride to, but not from.
Jordan Genso is hoping to change that.
Genso, a Brighton resident and community activist, has picked May 8 for a county-wide push to entice the popular transportation company to add Livingston to its list of coverage areas.
“What we need is for people to download the Uber app, open the app while you’re in Livingston County, spread the word through social media posts and email Uber about coming to Livingston County — all on May 8,” he said. “The idea is to get Uber’s attention, and show that if they open up service here, the (customers) will be there.
“The demand is here, it’s definitely here,” Genso said. “But I think Uber assumes there’s just not enough population density.”
The county does, of course, offer public transportation through LETS — Livingston Essential Transportation Service — and is home to a handful of taxi cab companies. LETS is gentle on the wallet, charging just $1- $6 for its curb-to-curb transportation within the county, but regular service hours are limited to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
And since it operates as a reservation-based “dial a ride” program, approximately 75 percent of the available seats are already spoken for by regulars —those who rely on it for transportation to work and those covered under human services contracts, explained Doug Britz, LETS director. That means for hundreds of people — possibly more — LETS isn’t an option.
The total number of LETS trips inches up annually; last year it was 150,000-plus. Britz said that there’s definitely a need to expand the program, but it’s limited by current funding, which includes federal and state revenue, and fares.
“For the last year-and-a-half at least, LETS has been pretty much at capacity,” he said, adding that residents have repeatedly asked for extended hours and service on Sundays. “(But) we’ve gone about as far as we can in taking on more ridership, based on the funds we have now,” he said.
Genso said that’s precisely why Uber is a viable solution to fill the gap — and Britz agrees.
“Is there a need for Uber here? Sure,” Britz said. “My feeling is we should get whoever is transit dependent where they need to go. If we can’t get them there, maybe Uber might be able to. If Uber is part of this whole puzzle and can get them where they want to go and we can’t, why not?”
As for calling a taxi cab, expect to pay a lot more than you will for Uber, Genso noted, and to wait a substantial amount of time for pick up. “Downtown (Brighton) bartenders tell me the wait (for a cab) is 40 to 50 minutes, minimum,” Genso said.
Not having Uber service is “just embarrassing for our community,” he added. “It’s bad for us to be behind the times like this.”
Genso recently approached the Brighton City Council with his May 8 community plan to attract Uber’s attention.
Brighton City Manager Nate Geinzer said he’s fielded requests “more than once” about getting the service in Livingston County. “I think it’s something worth looking at,” he said.
Mayor Jim Muzzin also expressed support. “I think it’s great that we get Uber here,” he said.
To reach Uber via email, Genso suggests using the address email@example.com.