Uber customers living in Denver may notice something strange when they open the enterprise app today: a small train car with the word "transit" next to it is on the list of common driving options. A quick tip generates a list of bus or train routes as well as the expected fare and end-to-end directions. It is the first example of Uber's years of efforts to integrate public transport into his app.
According to the company's transit team, the goal is to prevent people from using their personal vehicles by offering more transport options, whether it's a bike, scooter, or now a bus or train. It's no secret that Uber wants to become the "One Ring" for transport, the app that brings together all the other modes and binds them in the dark.
This is happening at a time when Uber faces growing criticism over its negative impact on public transport throughout the country. The waning bus and subway ride is tied to Uber's growing popularity in dozens of cities. The company hopes to mitigate this criticism by equating transit in its app.
"We should prepare transit for the future and create the most competitive route for us, because that's what we want to see," says Andrew Salzberg, director of transport policy and research at Uber. "We are so confident that transit is the best way to get around in many cities, so we want to include it in our app as a driver offer."
This theory is first tested in Denver. Uber drivers in Denver now see real-time bus and train information when they open the app, courtesy of transit data company Moovit. And in a few weeks, thanks to a partnership with mobile ticket company Masabi, they can even buy tickets in the Uber app.
This could be a blessing for Denver, which was struggling to keep pace with regional growth. The number of transit trips in the Denver region is gradually increasing. However, with the increase in population, the city has spent millions of dollars on motorway upgrades. As Denver builds more and more car capacity, people will drive more and the region will pay less for transit investment.
It's not clear if the appearance of transit options in the Uber app will significantly increase the Denver transit system, but it certainly can not hurt. Undoubtedly, it is unusual for the company to promote a transportation option that does not specifically return money to its own funds. But since taking office in 2017, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been on a mission to reform Uber's reputation for breaking the law, especially as the company expects its public offer later this year.
"We have a proud history of cannibalizing our own rides with cheaper services," says Salzberg, citing Uber X (cheaper than Uber Black), UberPool, and then bicycle and scooter rides. "If there is a cheaper and better way to get you where you want to go, we want to make it so easy for our drivers to find and use them in the app."
Uber obviously benefits from the integration of public transport by training its drivers to use their app across all the other apps that are supposed to be one-stop-shops for transportation, such as transit, citymapper and various e-mails. Roller apps and his main opponent Lyft. "We do not want people to jump between apps that sometimes contain different information than others," says David Reich, Transit Chief of Uber.
Ultimately, Uber hopes to be able to offer multimodal options, provided the company can convince customers to make more Uber trips to and from bus stops or train stations. In-app ticketing is another potential source of revenue. Finding new ways to earn money is critical to Uber's burning money. He believes that he will not be profitable for at least three years and face increasing competition in the field of driving. "This is a starting point for us," Reich said.