The first Uber journey took place in California in 2010 and since then the popular but controversial ridesharing app, estimated to be worth between $60 billion and $70 billion, has become increasingly connected to public transport. A limited partnership between Uber and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) was launched in July 2015. But this was focused more on offering a $20 voucher to MARTA riders to use the service for the first time and Uber advertising on the transit authority’s app. So how has this app revolutionised urban mobility for now and the future?
A number of partnerships between transit agencies and these kind of transport apps have been launched, with one of the most interesting being announced in November 2016, where TransLoc, a transportation technology platform that delivers seamless mobility, announced a three-month pilot partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to integrate Uber and public transit with the state’s passenger train system to enhance state-wide mobility. NCDOT and Amtrak partner to operate the Piedmont and Carolinian trains in North Carolina. TransLoc’s Rider app will provide North Carolina passengers with seamless, door-to-door trip planning to and from nine Amtrak stations throughout the state. This project will bring multimodal transit opportunities to more than five million residents across three major metropolitan areas.
“Our partnership with TransLoc is helping us create a large network of interconnected public transit options,” said Paul Worley, Rail Division Director at NCDOT. “By tying together services that residents use and depend on already, it’s now easier than ever for North Carolinians to travel across the state without driving their cars while taking advantage of existing rail infrastructure.”
The initiative advances NCDOT’s mission to eliminate transit deserts and connect more North Carolinians with safe mobility options for travel across the state and beyond without raising costs for riders or for the state. As a result of its work with local public transit systems over the past five years, the Department has seen a 40 percent increase in ridership. Now riders not only have more options for getting to the train, but they can plan and coordinate an entire multi-leg trip at the touch of a few buttons.
Starting on November 2nd 2016, North Carolinians can simply input their preferred train station into the Rider app. The app will display a route that integrates Uber and public transit with the train schedule, providing multimodal route options from the rider’s front door to the train station platform. For example, the app might provide a synchronised route to the train that incorporates walking, taking a bus or riding in an Uber. Riders can also use the app to find transit options or an Uber at their destination. Over time, the app will learn user preferences around cost, convenience and mode of transportation to deliver a customised door-to-door plan for worry-free transit.
Speakers from Florida East Coast Railway, MTA Metro North Railroad and Federal Transit Administration will be at this year's SafeRail Congress in Washington DC, April 11-12th.
“TransLoc’s partnership with NCDOT builds upon some of our deep existing relationships with North Carolina transit agencies and ties that work into an important statewide effort,” says Doug Kaufman, TransLoc CEO. “This is an innovative step for a transit agency as large as the NCDOT and reinforces its leadership in working to solve the chronic first-mile, last-mile problem that has historically restricted public transit ridership. We look forward to working with NCDOT to meet the needs of residents and create thriving transportation ecosystems in communities across the state.”
This announcement comes on the heels of a successful implementation of private and public transit trip planning within the TransLoc Rider app in Gainesville, Florida, which helped the city seamlessly integrate Uber with existing bus services to increase mobility options for seniors and safe rides home for students at the University of Florida.
“It is exciting to see technology companies and public transit agencies work together to test new ways for making trip options convenient and complete,” said Michael Melaniphy, American Public Transportation Association President and CEO. “As private sector innovation accelerates, such partnerships will enhance the attractiveness of public transportation, with the traveling public being the prime beneficiary.”
The high-profile leaders in this sector like Uber, Lyft, Ola and others have in a short period of time have already shaken up the taxi business. And its rapid growth is rooted in an ability to leverage spare capacity and expand quickly all without large investment. Capacity and investment are two of the biggest challenges in public transport, and these show no sign of easing. And faced with such an agile, popular and low cost form of transportation, public transport has to exercise caution. Uber will appeal to those who might have otherwise taken the train, metro or bus. And the nature of their development shows they are constantly looking for opportunities to disrupt new sectors.
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