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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Catch a ride on the “Get Around Downtown” service

Texas+State+art+education+senior+Julian+Cruz+exits+the+electric+cab%2C+Thursday%2C+Jan.+26%2C+2023%2C+at+Edward+Gary+Garage.+The+electric+cabs+are+provided+by+the+City+of+San+Marcos.

Texas State art education senior Julian Cruz exits the electric cab, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at Edward Gary Garage. The electric cabs are provided by the City of San Marcos.

On Nov. 7, the City of San Marcos announced a free transportation service, “Get Around Downtown.” As the name implies, the service takes riders around the downtown San Marcos area by electric cabs. 
The program offers rides in the Main Street District which is bordered by Pat Garrison Street, N. CM Allen Parkway, MLK Drive and Comanche Street. A rider can get picked up and dropped off anywhere within this area. 
“Anybody in the downtown area that needs a ride just needs to call our phone number or book a ride on our app and we’ll take them anywhere in the downtown area,” Collin Camacho-Dicks, operation manager at Electric Cab North America, said. “If you’re downtown, we’re always nearby.” 
To get a ride one can either call (512)-522-5269, download the Electric Cab Passenger app or hail a cab from the street if they are available. The service’s hours are 7 a.m. to 4 a.m. but can change depending on the demand during the day. 
“Riders can hail the cab on the street, call for a pick, or schedule a ride through the app,” Amy Cogdill, transit specialist, said. “Passengers can get picked up and taken anywhere they want to go in the service area for free.”
One big aspect of the program is that it is completely free for the rider to use. The service is free because, in Oct. 2019, $500,000 of downtown tax increment reinvestment zone funds was used to launch the program
The city encountered some struggles at first. According to Cogdill, the pandemic pushed back the program for two years. 
The program is different than other transportation systems such as Uber and municipal buses for different reasons. One major difference is that it only serves the downtown area, meaning that riders can be dropped off closer to where they need to be if they are in the downtown area than if they ride a bus. 
“The program works on a dynamic routing system rather than a fixed route to get riders as close to where they need to go as possible,” Cogdill said. “Passengers can get picked up and taken anywhere they want to go in the service area for free.”
It is also different than Uber or any other ride-share service because not only does it use carbon-neutral forms of transportation but there is no cost at all to the user which has been popular among riders so far especially workers downtown who use the service. 
“The Get Around Downtown [program] is seeing ridership from downtown employees, visitors, and residents,” Cogdill said. “Public reaction has been positive.”
Users have also liked the program since it allows workers to not have to find parking close to their building or have towalk a long distance to their cars. They can hop in the cabs and have an easier experience with parking. 
“Some people can’t find parking near their place of work, so they’ll park a few blocks away and call us to get them there, then back to their vehicle when they get off,” Camacho-Dicks said.
San Marcos hosts several parades and festivals that close streets and parking lots downtown. This service can make it easier for event-goers to find parking and to get around during the events.
“I have used it and found it incredibly helpful during events that happen downtown due to limited parking and roads being closed down.” Jennifer Bates, a user of the program, said. “It’s definitely increased the likelihood that I’ll attend an event because I no longer have to worry about navigating closed-down roads and long walks.”
The service can also help students who live in the area. Downtown is home to several student apartment complexes. While the cabs do not take the students directly on campus, they can get students closer to where they need to be. 
The electric cab service can also help students when they are out downtown by providing the ability to make safer decisions.
“It is a much safer alternative than walking alone to your car as a single girl,” Bates said. “I’m an alumni and it would have been a game changer and would have encouraged me to make safer choices had it existed back when I was in college.”
There are also some concerns and recommendations for the cab service. One large concern is that the service area is too small which makes the program useless to people who live outside the downtown area. 
“I wish they had a longer range. Say, Wonder World to the big H-E-B … it would be much more helpful than just around The Square.” Brandon Ferretti, a user of the program, said. “Maybe if the zones were expanded it would attract more people, especially the people who live around here year long.” 
The expansion of the program is unknown. Since the service is a pilot program, the city is testing if the service can last long-term, so user comment is crucial to the survival and improvement of the program.
For more information on the electric cabs, visit https://ecabna.com/.

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