DC ride-hailing startup predicts boost from Metro disruptions

DC ride-hailing startup predicts boost from Metro disruptions
© Greg Nash

Washington's ride-hailing startup Split is hoping to elevate its profile during travel disruptions caused by repair-related closures and delays on the city's subway system over the next year.

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Metrorail's massive repair effort, known as SafeTrack, begins on Saturday and will involve continuous single-tracking in some areas, complete shutdowns in other areas and weekend service that ends at midnight.

Local radio station WAMU reports that Metro is expecting unprecedented "crush loads" of passengers unless riders seek alternative transit options. A number of ride-hailing firms are vying to meet the extra demand.

Split, a pool service company that launched in D.C. last year, sees SafeTrack as an opportunity to make its mark on the region.

The company uses an algorithm to connect people traveling in the same direction, allowing them to ride with another customer for a lower fare.

“We’re excited to see how we can help alleviate the impact from SafeTrack and provide an affordable and reliable community option for D.C.,” said Sara Pierce, head of marketing and communications for Split. “Our goal is to be people’s everyday transportation option and make a tangible impact on the city by taking cars off the road.”

During the month of June, as Metro rolls out the first phase of the repair effort, Split is awarding riders a $1 credit for every trip they take.

The firm is also increasing its driver base by 10 percent every week to keep up with growing demand and will be making routing improvements near Metro stops most affected by closures and single-tracking.

During a 24-hour shutdown of Metro’s entire transit system in March, Split saw a 50 percent increase in riders. Pierce said she is anticipating similar growth throughout the SafeTrack effort.

Split differs from other ride-hailing firms like Uber and Lyft because it does not have “surge pricing,” fares that spike with demand.

But unlike its competitors, Split only covers a portion of D.C. and does not include the Virginia or Maryland suburbs, two areas that will see heavy delays and disruptions.

Pierce said Split has added more neighborhoods to its coverage area since it launched and expects to continue that trend.

“This has been even more motivation for us to continue to improve,” Pierce said.