STUART, Fla. - Stuart City Commissioners are looking into a pilot program with the ride-sharing company Uber in an effort to help people get around the city more easily.
And it could benefit more people than just the riders.
Uber driver John Natale admits this time of year business in Stuart is far from booming.
“It’s a little slow now, in the off season, but there's a lot of people who use it,” said Natale.
He's actually based out of Port St. Lucie but says he goes where the riders go. That’s why he's encouraged to hear that the City of Stuart is looking to partner up with Uber to help people get around the city more easily.
“It’s a good service now for the rider, and that will even make it better.”
“I think it has a lot of possibilities,” said Stuart’s Mayor Troy McDonald
He and the rest of the commissioner pushed the pilot program forward at this week’s city commission meeting.
The plan is still in the early stages, but if approved, riders could see up to a 25 percent discount if they use the ride sharing app within the city limits. That’s in addition to the free downtown tram.
“It gives us an opportunity to provide an alternative form of public transportation by basically subsidizing the cost of Uber for trips that begin and end in the city boundaries,” said McDonald.
And it’s not just the riders who are hopeful.
“They’ll call up and ask us how's the parking downtown,” said Tim Horton who manages Luna Italian Cuisine in Downtown Stuart.
Horton says parking, especially during the season, can be a problem.
“We stick our head out the window and say there is none. And they go okay. Sorry. We’ll try again another night.”
Horton hopes if this program goes through it will encourage even more people to come downtown.
“It seems like my initial reaction to that is go for it.”
City staff estimate it could cost around $20,000 a year. However, all the numbers are still being worked out.
There are other municipalities in central Florida that have tested the program as well.