Marin transportation authority and Lyft expand $5 discount for shared ride to SMART stations

The Transportation Authority of Marin is expanding a program that provides up to a $5 discount for people who share Lyft rides to and from all Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit train stations in Marin County.

The $5-off incentive program started in September 2017 shortly after SMART began train service between Sonoma and Marin County. The Transportation Authority of Marin said the program was a popular option that provided Lyft passengers a way to get to and from the train stations without driving their own vehicle there.

To receive the $5 incentive Lyft riders must begin or end the ride at a SMART station during SMART's hours of operation Monday through Friday. Passengers will pay the first $2 of their Lyft-shared ride and the Transportation Authority of Marin will pay up to $5 for the remainder of the ride.

The $5 credit is good for up to 40 trips a month and the number of trips will be automatically renewed each month.

There are six SMART stations in Marin County, Novato San Marin, Novato Downtown, Novato Hamilton, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael and Larkspur. 

The shared ride option is not available on the Lyft app from the San Marin and Downtown Novato stations. Passengers at those stations should enter the promo code GET2SMARTSM.

TAM has partnered with the local nonprofit Whistlestop to ensure the discounted ride is available for all users by providing rides with wheelchair accessible vehicles. Whistlestop, which provides services for people with disabilities, will schedule Lyft rides for people who do not have access to a cell phone.

Transportation to and from public transit is often referred to as the first/last mile, and the $5 savings may convince people to leave their cart at home, TAM's executive director Anne Richardson said.

"Users of the program will benefit from not having to look for parking at the station, while helping reduce emissions through sharing a Lyft ride with a co-worker or neighbor," Lyft's senior manager of government and transit partnership Paul Davis said.

TAM's $5-off program is funded by a $10 annual vehicle registration fee approved by Marin County voters in 2010 to maintain local streets and pathways, improve transit for seniors and people with disabilities and reduce congestion and pollution.