To expand further into public transit, Uber is starting an on-demand service with California’s Marin County. The program, called Marin Connect, will run on Uber’s ride-hailing software platform. It will power logistics for four wheelchair-accessible vans beginning on July 1, 2020.
In addition to the wheelchair-accessible vans, Marin Connect will make public transit schedules and discounts available within the Uber app in the county. Vouchers will also be offered for riders traveling the last mile to their destinations from transit stops.
The two-year deal will cost $80,000. Instead of paying commissions on each ride, Marin Transit will pay a flat monthly fee over the span of the deal. In addition to that, the county will pay Uber $70,000 to offer discount vouchers for the Uber trips being offered to and from transit stops.
Prior to this deal, Marin Transit suffered from low ridership. According to the company’s general manager Nancy Whelan, the poor numbers had to do with app usage: “People already have a gazillion apps on their phone and they may not want another one.”
In an interview with Bloomberg, David Reich, head of Uber Transit, stated that this partnership is only the beginning of their public transit plans: “This is not a one-off. This is a new product and a new business. Together we want to make car ownership a thing of the past.” The company is currently talking with dozens of transit agencies around the world. While the deal with Marin Transit is small, it could be the start of a reliable revenue stream in the future in the form of long-term contracts.
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