Giving cash cab a whole new meaning

Don't feel like driving? Parkmerced will pay San Francisco residents $100 to use Uber instead.

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First, Uber makes commuting cheaper. Now it’s making it cost-free. Well, almost. And in theory.

The Silicon Valley startup has just entered into a partnership with Parkmerced, a planned neighbourhood in San Francisco, to provide residents of the community a $100 monthly stipend toward multi-modal transportation, which includes both Uber and public transit. Only those who do not use a car can receive the stipend, in an effort to encourage more people to leave their cars at home (or better yet, not get a car at all).

The program is intended to help drive both companies’ goals of creating car-free city living for residents of San Francisco (starting with those who live in the Parkmerced community). “By getting more people into fewer cars, we can provide a more affordable alternative to car ownership,” said Uber in a recent blog post announcing the partnership.

This is an excellent example of looking outside the traditional advertising box and creating something that not only creates awareness, but also inserts a brand in the public discourse and attempts to solve a problem.

Paul Kemp-Robertson at Contagious recently made this point at last week’s Future Flash conference last week, using the example of an Argentinian real estate developer who gave an agency $4 million to advertise a newly-developed riverfront located far from the downtown core. He was told the money would go to waste on traditional ads, and instead they decided to bring people to the area by building an iconic footbridge connecting the business core with the historic waterfront.