What Is UBER?
This week I heard an interesting presentation by UBER, presenting the company’s mobility vision. This vision goes fay beyond a taxi company. I use the term “taxi company” because this term is often used in local media when referring to UBER. Is UBER a taxi company? Wikipedia describes UBER as “a peer-to-peer ridesharing, taxi cab, food delivery, and transportation network company”. That goes far beyond a taxi company. Below are some interesting takeaways from the presentation.
How UBER Presents Itself
On its own website UBER presents itself as follows: “It started as a simple idea: What if you could request a ride from your phone? More than 5 billion trips later, we’re working to make transportation safer and more accessible, helping people order food quickly and affordably, reducing congestion in cities by getting more people into fewer cars, and creating opportunities for people to work on their own terms”. Keywords are: transportation, safer, accessible, quickly, affordable, congestion, opportunities.
What UBER Does
Looking at UBER’s website, one can see a number of different businesses.
- The ride/drive business is the most broadly known one. UBER provides a means for drivers and people seeking transportation services to connect. This service exists in a number of flavors, depending on the geography. A recent addition to this portfolio is the “pool” service. UberPOOL allows riders to share a trip, for a lower fee than a private ride.
- The food delivery service is by now also an established business, connecting restaurants that have no own delivery service to hungry people.
- UBER FREIGHT is a less known service, matching shippers with truck service providers (carriers). While the “pool” idea has not yet been introduced here, I believe it has big potential because freight trucks often ride half empty.
- In the past UBER launched a parcel delivery service called UBER RUSH, however, this service has been discontinued. Instead, the company focuses on what it considered its key areas.
UBER’s Vision on Mobility
UBER is investing in a number of areas related to mobility.
uberPOOL matches people heading in the same direction. A test in San Francisco showed that 40% of UBER riders chose for uberPOOL. By sharing these trips rather than having these as single private trips, 108 million miles of rides were saved, saving two million gallons of gas, and avoiding 19,000 tons of CO2. Now consider the amount of CO2 reduction (or: avoidance) if this initiative is extended globally. Sharing a ride entails less comfort. Sometimes the driver needs to do a long detour just to pick you up where you are, e.g. due to one-way traffic. UBER is therefore working on a tool that will suggest to riders a short walk (e.g. cross the street, or walk to the next block) to avoid such detours, and optimize the matching between riders. Who wins? The environment.
For the sake of the completeness one should also mention that these mathematics may not be 100% correct. Namely some people may use UBER because it is available and cheap, while they would otherwise use public transport or walk. Thus the reduction in rides thanks to uberPOOL is not a pure saving in CO2, because some of this CO2 emission may not have taken place if UBER did not exist.
Partnerships With Ecosystem Partners
UBERS acknowledges that it forms only one part of the end-to-end journey of its clients. Therefore it seeks to team with other transportation providers around the world. Examples are:
- 40-50% of UBER trips in London start or end at a train station. UBER, therefore, launched a collaboration with Virgin Trains to offer tides to/from train stations. The intention is that riders can book the whole trip in one App, including the UBER ride and a train ticket.
- UBER entered a partnership with GetAround, to offer a solution for riders that want to drive themselves. For example, if you want to go to the beach, and you’re afraid that you won’t be able to find a regular UBER car for the ride back. This service works as a rental service.
- UBER acquired bike-share company JUMP, to offer a solution for people who want to complete their trip (by car, bus, or train) with a bike ride for the first/last piece of their trip.
To conclude: the future if UBER is multiple modes of transportation, all in one App!