Seniors hoping to catch a lift from an Uber driver in Laguna Beach as part of a partnership between the city and the on-demand ride service company will have to wait a bit longer.
“When we try something new, there always seems to be some hiccups and we are experiencing those now,” City Manager John Pietig told the council last week as part of a discussion about extending the city’s contract with the nonprofit Sally’s Fund.
The council approved a one-year extension of an agreement with Sally’s Fund through Aug. 31, 2018.
Laguna currently contracts with Sally’s Fund to provide free rides to passengers at least 60 years old, so an agreement with Uber is meant to complement existing transportation options for seniors.
Laguna and Uber are focusing on billing logistics and how reservation calls for riders who may not have a smartphone will be handled for the trial program, Public Works director Shohreh Dupuis said Monday.
“We still hope to start the pilot within the next 30 to 60 days,” Dupuis said.
As of last week’s council meeting, the city received 16 applications to participate in the program with Uber.
The city pays Sally’s fund $6,500 per month to operate a van that shuttles seniors to the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center for lunches, while volunteers also take them to medical appointments and errands such as grocery shopping, according to a staff report.
Under guidelines approved in May for the Uber service, seniors would be reimbursed half the cost of a ride up to $5 within Laguna Beach and up to $8 outside of the city, the Daily Pilot reported at the time.
Council members agreed the first two months of the pilot program should be free, with the rates beginning during subsequent months.