Not all Americas are connected to the new digital economy.
Photograph by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images
By Katie Fehrenbacher
May 19, 2016

On demand ride service Uber has entered into a first-of-its-kind partnership with a real estate project in San Francisco to help encourage its residents to live “car-free.”

The move shows how Uber is increasingly willing to use some friendlier tactics with cities, in addition to some of the more aggressive moves it’s employed in the face of city regulations and push back from taxi groups.

This week Uber said it is working with San Francisco’s Parkmerced, which is one of the largest rental housing complexes in the city, located south of San Francisco State University and west of 19th Avenue. The complex is located miles from downtown and other vibrant neighborhoods and its public transportation options have been limited.

Under the partnership, new Parkmerced residents will get a $100 monthly incentive to spend on both Uber and Clipper, the public transportation card that can be used for San Francisco’s BART, Muni, and Caltran. At least $30 0f that monthly incentive needs to be used on Uber, reports the San Francisco Business Times.

For more on why Uber and Lyft are leaving some cities, watch:

Uber is also offering low capped fares for Parkmerced residents who use UberPool, Uber’s carpool service, to reach three public transportation locations including the Daly City and Balboa Park BART stations and the West Portal Muni stop. The housing complex is a couple miles from each of these locations, making the “last mile” of residents’ commutes potentially problematic. Uber is also offering new prospective Parkmerced residents a $20 credit to visit the complex.

Uber is working with Parkmerced’s subsidiary Parkmerced Labs, which is a group that develops and incubates new ideas for sustainable urban living at the complex. The real estate developer is covering the cost of the subsidy, not Uber, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

Uber and Parkmerced will study whether the new program will encourage residents to live in the complex without cars, and what the preferred public transportation options are.

The majority of the Parkmerced complex, which has thousands of apartments, is owned by the New York real estate group Maximus Real Estate Partners. The complex is adding thousands more apartments through a redevelopment plan.

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Despite Uber’s dramatic growth in many cities across the U.S., the company has clashed with some cities and taxi groups that have pushed back on its sudden emergence. As a result, Uber has threatened to leave some urban areas. But as Uber has matured as a company, it’s also more recently shown a friendlier side, willing to work with some city groups.

Uber is also working with Boston’s City Councilor Tito Jackson and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay on using Uber to reach underserved neighborhoods in Boston. Uber will unveil more of the details of its plans for Boston next week.

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