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Photo via Uber.
Photo via Uber.

Uber doesn’t typically throw itself into ballot measure discussions — purposefully, at least. But the ride-hailing giant is voicing its support for a major transportation-related proposition in the Seattle area.

Brooke Steger
Brooke Steger at the 2014 GeekWire Summit.

Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger penned a blog post Monday that details Uber’s support for Sound Transit Proposition 1, a $54 billion measure on the November ballot known as “ST3” that would add 37 stations and 62 miles of light rail across Puget Sound by 2041.

As The Seattle Times lays out, if passed, the measure would add new bus and train services, while adding parking and improved access to stations. It also calls for increases to property, sales, and car-tab tax for residents in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties.

In her post, Steger writes that ST3 would “greatly expand mass transit options and accessibility throughout the region.”

“Passage of Prop 1 — commonly known as ST3 — would be a significant and overdue step toward putting in place the comprehensive transportation system the Seattle area needs,” Steger wrote. “Endorsing ballot measures isn’t something we have typically done at Uber, which indicates how important we think this is.”

Seattle skyline and Rainier at sunsetShe noted that the measure shares the same goals of Uber, which is to “reduce congestion and pollution by moving more people with fewer cars, and provide better mobility options for all people living in the region.”

Steger pointed out that Uber, largely known for clashing with city and state government over the legality of its operations, has partnered with several transit agencies to better serve people during their “first” and/or “last mile.” That’s typically known as the trip one takes from his or her home to public transit, and vice versa — for example, taking an Uber ride from home to the train station in the morning, and another ride from the station to a workplace.

uber_sf_request-screenshotIn Seattle, where traffic is becoming worse in one of the fastest-growing cities in America — growth that’s largely fueled by the burgeoning tech industry — Uber is offering $3 flat-fee rides this week for people taking trips to and from the University of Washington light rail station and Eastgate Park and Ride.

Given this direction, some say that Uber is trying to replace public transit lines. The Verge published a long piece last month titled “Welcome to Uberville” that was about how Uber “wants to take over public transit, one small town at a time.”

When we tested Uber’s uberHOP carpooling service last year in Seattle, it certainly felt like a private bus.

Steger also provided data to show that “it’s possible for the use of rideshare and mass transit to significantly grow simultaneously.”

“Uber is dedicated to the future of cities — to make transportation reliable everywhere, for everyone,” she wrote. “What we provide will just get us part of the way there. To fully realize the vision, we need strong partners among transit agencies and local governments. This is why we’re urging voters to support Sound Transit Proposition 1.”

Other local tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, and Vulcan are also supporting ST3.

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