DALLAS - The City of Dallas and business leaders in the Deep Ellum entertainment district are trying to improve the rideshare situation there.
They're implementing drop-off and pickup zones to try and make it safer for riders, ease traffic congestion, and help first responders get in and out faster when there's an emergency.
The pilot program is set to start April 18.
Those who use programs like Uber and Lyft know what a headache it can be to try and get a ride to or from Deep Ellum on a busy weekend night.
The new pickup zones aim to help with that problem and also with public safety.
“Pretty much a standstill. If you can imagine I-35 at its worst, that’s pretty much Deep Ellum,” said Lauren Coe, co-owner of Trinity Cider. “Visit Deep Ellum on a Friday or Saturday night, and traffic can typically be a crowded mess.”
Coe’s business - Trinity Cider - sits right on busy Main St., which is often congested with Uber and Lyft drivers trying to find their passengers.
“If you’re trying to pull over, I’ve been in Ubers and tried to pull over on the side of Main and Elm. There are no places, they do not exist,” Coe added.
“A lot of drivers cancel, a lot of drivers just kind of can’t make it to you,” said Jessica Solls, who uses rideshare services. “You have to walk somewhere to try and find them, so it’s pretty crazy.
The traffic problems not only create headaches for the neighborhood, but also a public safety issue.
“So it was actually the fire department who contacted me first because they were worried if something major happened on those streets, there was no way a fire truck was going to be able to get through there,” said Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano.
City leaders and the Deep Ellum Foundation worked with businesses, along with Uber and Lyft, to create five pickup/drop-off zones mainly on the outskirts of Deep Ellum to lighten the traffic load on the main thoroughfares.
“Keep the Uber and Lyft drivers out of the really congested streets, but also find zones where the customer would only be a block or two walk at maximum,” said Jon Hetzel, president of the Deep Ellum Foundation.
There will also be two stand-by zones under 345, along Main and Commerce, and between Good Latimer and Cesar Chavez, for drivers to wait for the app to assign them rides.
The zones will automatically load in the app for users.
“People open their phones, it’s going to tell you your closest pick up spot, and that’s where you’ll be,” Medrano added.
Medrano says other busy nightlife areas, like Oak Lawn, have also shown interest in doing something similar.
For now, they’ll try out a pilot program in Deep Ellum to see how it works out.
From there, both Uber and Lyft, along with the city, plan to study traffic flow, and those pickup zones could change based on that feedback.