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Uber wants users to book train and bus tickets through its app

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Uber is moving beyond the world of cars and looking to become a one-stop transportation shopping app. The company said it wanted to help “solve the issue of car ownership” and one of the ways it was planning to do that is by offering public transport options through its app.

On Thursday, the company revealed how it planned to do that, announcing it would add a range of new services to its app — including bikes, car-sharing and public transport tickets.

“We’re going beyond cars. We are about mobility — making mobility available to everyone, everywhere,” Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said at a forum in Washington, DC.

“We want to be part of the solution.”

We’ve had a look at how it plans to do this.

Uber wants you to buy train, bus tickets through its app

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of Uber’s announcement in Washington were its plans to let customers book and use tickets for train, bus and ferry services in the app.

Where Uber is now:

  • Queensland: Brisbane, Ipswich, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Cairns, Townsville
  • Victoria: Melbourne, Geelong, Mornington Peninsula, Ballarat and Bendigo
  • NSW: Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, Byron Bay, Wollongong
  • WA: Perth
  • SA: Adelaide
  • Tasmania: Hobart
  • ACT: Canberra

It’s partnering with UK-based mobile ticketing company Masabi, which already offers mobile ticketing services for 30 transport agencies and operators around the globe.

That includes organisations like Virgin Trains, Boston’s MBTA, Transport for Athens and Los Angeles’ Metrolink.

Basically, users will be able to book their transport for a trip say from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, or Sydney to NSW’s Central Coast — including an Uber to the train station, a train ride and a bus ride — all within the same app.

“Uber users will have the option to book and display Masabi customers’ transit tickets in the app, allowing for seamless transfers from ride-sharing to public transit services for convenient multimodal journeys,” Masabi said on its website.

But one of the first hurdles it will confront is reaching an agreement with a transit agency. Going global means reaching agreements with agencies not just in different countries, but in different cities.

It is unclear at this stage where Uber plans to introduce this option.

Going forward, Uber will be less about simply booking a car but travelling “from Point A to Point B in the best way” with a variety of transit options, Mr Khosrowshahi said.

It now wants to work with cities and governments

Uber has vowed to work with US cities, which Mr Khosrowshahi noted will see a rising percentage of the country’s population.

It’s quite the turnaround from just a few years ago, when its disregard for existing regulations angered governments worldwide.

“We recognise we also need to give value back to the public agencies that govern these cities by using our technology and insights,” he said.

It’s looking at doing this through data-sharing. In one trial, they are looking at sharing data on sidewalk usage across all modes of transportation.

It’s also signalled a willingness to share anonymous information from customer travel logs to show travel conditions across different times, days or months, and how travel times are impacted by things like big events and road closures in a city.

This will be of interest to its many customers after the company’s recent controversy over data protection.

Just last year, the company was criticised for breaching user trust after it reportedly admitted to covering up a massive hack of 57 million users’ data by paying the people who stole it $132,000 to delete it.

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