Uber has expanded its US app to offer public transportation for the first time
- Uber's first in-app public transportation options launched in Denver in the US on Thursday.
- The feature will allow users to compare car trips with bus and train schedule - and even has mobile ticketing options.
- The ride-hailing giant wants to be a "one-stop-shop" for transportation, executives said in an interview, and hope to roll the feature out to more cities soon.
For the first time on Thursday, you'll be able to compare car rides and public transit trips all inside the Uber app, the ride-hailing giant has announced, as long as you are in one American city.
If you're headed from the Denver airport to Union Station downtown, for example, the app will show you all possible options - even those not operated by Uber - as part of its push to be a one-stop-shop for getting around.
"We formed this team early last year," David Reich, Uber's head of transit, said in an interview. "And we've been meeting with dozens of transit agencies and hundreds of transit riders all around the world to understand what their needs are and how Uber can make a positive impact on how they use public transportation."
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In Denver, the first city where the integration is live, the transit directions and schedules are powered by the app MoovIt. Mobile tickets are powered by Masabi, one of the two major mobile ticketing companies currently active.
The American state of Colorado's capital was a natural choice as the launch location because of how much local leaders have invested in a new bus network and regional rail.
"Denver specifically was just super innovative and really forward-thinking," Reich said. "On top of that, they've been working with Masabi for quite a while on ticketing so we could get that into the mix from the get go."
Uber offered no timeline for future city rollouts, or which places might be on the list. However, the executives said Uber is opening its transit portal to allow other cities interested in working with the company to get in touch.
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"It's actually been kind of hard to get in touch with Uber to understand what we offer," Andrew Salzburg, head of transportation policy and research, said. "So as we launch this new rider integration we'll have Uber.com/transit going live as a place city governments or transit agencies can see the different types of deals we had."
That effort could lead to more Uber services like those in Innisfil, Ontario, Canada, for example, where Uber is filling the public transportation gap by providing government-subsidized rides to the 36,000 person town for less money than the city would have spent on new bus routes.
Lyft, Uber's largest competitor but still a much smaller company, has also invested in public transit options. Its app now includes bike, transit and car options in Santa Monica, California, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.
"We're ultimately working as an alternative to owning and driving your own car," Salzburg said. "What we're really trying to do here is make it easy to compare all of our different options in one place so that you can make the best decision for you and then act on it."
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