Uber is expanding its frontiers by adding public transportation to their already successful car ride-sharing service. Buzz60’s Maria Mercedes Galuppo has more.
Uber is expanding, but its latest feature may seem a bit surprising.
Starting Thursday in Denver, the popular ride-sharing app will be adding support for public transportation directly into its app, partnering with Denver-based public transit company Regional Transportation District (RTD).
First available to users in Denver before expanding to the Denver metro area, through the updated app users will be able to see ETAs for their trips through traditional Uber Pools, UberX, Select etc. rides as well as through public transportation including trains, buses and subways.
“We are bringing transit as a way to get around, which we know in many cases is the best, fastest, most convenient way for someone to get from A to B within a city,” Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s head of transportation policy and research, tells USA TODAY.
While today the app will only show the ETAs for public transportation, in the future they will be able to purchase tickets from within the app, including daily and monthly passes for all various modes of public transportation.
“This is a big shift for Uber,” says David Reich, the company’s head of transit, adding that for the first time the company is suggesting that public transportation might be a better option than taking a traditional Uber. “They can see how much walking is involved, how many transfers … what are the next few buses that are going to come up, or trains, and then even follow themselves on the map to sort of see their progression towards their final destination.”
Denver has buses, commuter rail and light rail, all of which will be in the app. In cities with subways, ferries, trams and other forms of public transit they will be in the app as well. “All modes of public transit will be covered.”
So when is it coming to a city near you? The company plans to roll out Transit gradually over the course the year in other U.S. cities as well as worldwide. Uber is working with transit data company Moovit, which has data from more than 7,000 transit agencies worldwide, for its real-time information and directions.
Reich would not go into detail when asked if Uber will get a percentage of ticket sales bought from within the app, with the company working with a third party called Masabi to integrate ticket purchasing. Reich does, however, say that tickets purchased through the app won’t be more expensive compared to traditional methods.
Uber Rewards, the company’s new rewards program that it is in the process of rolling out around the country, will not initially count Transit purchases toward its program.
“Strategically we’re trying to be the all-in-one app for mobility,” says Reich.
As for concerns that Uber may be cannibalizing its main business by showing alternatives to its core ride offerings, Salzberg isn’t concerned. “We have a proud history of cannibalizing our own rides,” he notes, adding that the same concern has popped up when the company has expanded with Uber Pool, bikes and scooters. “If there’s a great transit option parallel to” a traditional Uber ride “we want to make that available to you because we really do want to be the place that gives you the best choice for your trip.”
“And if there’s a cheaper, better way to deliver it to you we want to be able to offer that to you.”
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal
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