Peak Uber has arrived.
With ridesharing services taking over the streets in major cities, they’re causing infrastructure issues and are running up against new laws and regulations put in place to govern the swarm. In August 2018, New York City became the first major hub to cap service, issuing a one-year freeze on all new vehicle licenses in an effort to cut down on gridlock and regulate the booming ride-hail industry. In another attempt to reduce congestion, the city implemented a new surcharge in February 2019 for all for-hire vehicles traveling through the busiest neighborhoods (read: the majority of Manhattan). In Barcelona, Uber and Cabify suspended their services following a new law requiring all vehicles to be booked at least 15 minutes in advance. And this fallout is not just reserved to cars; in Europe, dockless bike sharing schemes have faced trouble, with British companies like OfO, oBike and Urbo exiting the market in the past year due to problems with infrastructure and uptake.
As a result, apps dedicated to a single avenue of ridesharing are becoming a thing of the past as consumers look for a more seamless and diversified travel experience across public and private services.
Tapping into this need for cross-mobility options, Citymapper is launching a new subscription service for Londoners in April 2019, called Citymapper Pass. The service will work across London’s buses, trains, trams, Santander docked bikes and Citymapper’s Ride (a cab-sharing service). It will be available as part of a weekly subscription, giving users the tools for a simpler journey. With the bright green contactless card and the Citymapper app, users can tap and trek their way around London.
“We’re trying to create a vision of this future where mobility is something where, as a user, you care about getting from point A to point B. We want to make it so it’s a bit like a utility, you can access whatever comes along,” said CEO and founder Azmat Yousef. The service is cheaper than Transport for London’s own weekly discount and gives users more freedom and choice in how they reach their destination.
Whim is following a similar model. In April 2018, the Helsinki-based company began offering travel packages to European travelers that are tailored to the individual’s needs. On the Whim app, users are given access to buses, trams, taxis and hired cars as part of a monthly fee or pay-as-you-go pricing, with packages ranging from £99 to £349 per month.
Uber is also repositioning as a one-stop shop for all modes of transportation with a new public transit option on its app, announced in February 2019. The app will now integrate bus and rail routes and times in addition to ridesharing, and offers in-app ticket purchasing. “We should prepare transit for the future, and make it the most competitive way to get around, because that’s what we want to see,” said Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s head of transportation policy and research. “We’re so confident that transit is in fact the best way to get around in many cities that we want to put it in our app as a rider proposition.” The transit feature is currently in testing in Denver, with plans to roll out in more cities later this year.
Some platforms are taking it a step further, expanding beyond transportation altogether into daily services. In Southeast Asia, the taxi-hailing platform Grab has risen to an “everyday super app” by partnering with other businesses to offer lifestyle services including package delivery, grocery shopping and food delivery. They’ve even added GrabPet beta service in Singapore, an on-demand pet-friendly transportation option that offers pet-trained drivers and pet insurance. Grab’s Indonesian competitor Go-Jek branches wider still, offering an online ticket platform for local events, medical prescription services and even an at-home personal stylist.
“Our customers want their trips to be as seamless as possible…to plan for travel from end to end, including additional first mile and last mile options,” said David Genova, CEO and General Manager of Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), of their partnership with Uber. The collaboration, Genova continues, creates a unique opportunity to “present riders with additional, complementary options to most efficiently reach their destination.” Companies that link options across public transit, city bikes, ridehailing services and beyond are best situated to find success with the modern multimode commuter.