The days of using Uber just to hail an Uber are starting to look downright primitive. Soon, you’ll be able to use the app to book an electric bike, rent cars, and pay for public transport, too. This is all thanks to three new updates announced today, which signal Uber’s goal to become an all-in-one transportation app, rather than one limited to car pickups.
The most interesting of today’s three announcements is a partnership with Masabi, a London-based company that provides mobile ticketing for public transportation. The company works with everyone from New York's MTA to Los Angeles' Metrolink to let you purchase tickets in advance. It's the company's first foray into public transportation, and could mark a turning point in the division that has existed between ridesharing and public transit.
“Uber rides have gone a long way helping these customers explore their cities, but we want to offer more to making getting around — whether it’s one mile or 50 miles — even easier," Emily Hallet, Head of Product Marketing for the Mobility Platform, told Refinery29 regarding the expansion.
If you live in San Francisco, you may have already tried a pilot version of Uber’s bikeshare service, which kicked off in January. The service is now expanding to Washington, D.C., but this launch out of pilot mode — and Uber’s purchase of Jump Bikes, the pedal-assisted electric bike brand — suggests it may roll out in other cities soon.
Uber's bikes differ from the ones used in Capital Bikeshare, the main bikeshare program currently operating in Metro D.C. For starters, they’re electric. Second, they’re dockless, meaning you can pick them up where the last rider left them. You unlock the bike using an app on your phone, the same way you currently unlock dock-based bikes. Dockless bikeshare programmes are already popular in the UK, but they’ve hit some snags, including incidents of vandalism. In order for Uber Bike to succeed, the company will need to make sure its security is on point.
Today’s second update, called Uber Rent, is slightly more in line with the company’s roots in ridesharing. The service, which will launch first in San Francisco, is powered by Getaround, a carsharing company similar to Zipcar that makes it easy to pick up a vehicle for small errands or weekend trips. It's appealing for anyone who doesn’t want to pay for a parking space or car insurance, but wants the convenience of renting a car for a few hours.
In Uber's eyes, these three addition, as well as its core rideshare offerings, work in tandem as one transportation hub on your phone.
“These services are really complementary,” Hallet said. “Bikes are great for relatively short-distance urban travel, especially commutes, and carsharing is great when you want to head off for the weekend or run errands.”
Your turn, Lyft.