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Uber users will be able to book e-bikes, buy public transit tickets and rent a car via the Uber app — and it’s all part of a bigger plan

Uber wants to be the app that connects people to all types of transportation, not just car rides.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times

Uber isn’t just a ride-hailing service anymore — or at least the company is trying not to be.

Today, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced that the company would soon allow customers to buy public transit tickets and rent a car in Uber’s app, via a series of partnerships.

Uber has long billed itself as much more than a ride-hailing service. But this signals the next big step in its evolution into a broader transportation platform. Uber wants to own a piece of every trip that happens in cities, from e-bikes to public transit — even if it’s not an Uber-operated service.

Soon, customers will be able to buy public transit tickets in the Uber app in 12 cities like New York (commuter rail), Los Angeles and New Orleans through a deal with online ticketing platform Masabi. And in eight cities in the U.S., Uber users will be able to rent a car from Getaround, a rental startup, right in the app.

The big picture: Uber envisions a world with little personal car ownership, one where people would rely more heavily on using services like Uber. And it wants to prime its user base by providing access to multiple means of transportation that meet a variety of needs that makes it easier to ditch their cars.

It’s also an opportunity for Uber to benefit from transportation transactions that happen off of the company’s platform.

The company did not reveal the details of the logistics of the deals, such as Uber’s financial relationships with Getaround and Masabi.

But if it can create a useful interface for planning and booking so-called “multi-modal” routes, which combine multiple types of transportation — such as an Uber ride to the nearest commuter rail station — it could be a win-win.

And specifically by connecting customers to public transit, Uber is attempting to counter narratives that its services are the antithesis to city infrastructure, and that it takes customers — and, therefore, revenue — away from public transit agencies.

To be sure, it’s unlikely Uber will ever be able to replicate the scale of public transit, even with its many bus-like services like Express Pool. Under Khosrowshahi, Uber is attempting to build an image of a company that’s not just open to working with cities, but one that proactively does so.

As part of today’s announcement, Khosrowshahi also announced that the company is expanding its recently acquired bike-share service, Jump, to Washington, D.C., where there is an existing dockless bike-share pilot and several competitors.

Uber is also beginning to work with local Washington, D.C., regulators to establish a data-sharing pilot that the company hopes can be replicated in other cities.

In addition to that pilot in D.C., the company is making its anonymized traffic data available in 12 more cities including Amsterdam, Bangalore, Brisbane, Cairo, Hyderabad, Melbourne, Mumbai, Nairobi, Perth, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

This willingness to share nonproprietary data to help cities better maintain and operate infrastructure is an about-face from the Uber of the past. The ride-hail company spent much of its early existence fighting off any attempts made by local regulators to gain access to varying degrees of its anonymized data.

But it’s an important means of showing good will. Khosrowshahi is trying to tell cities that the Uber of today is a “true partner” — and not the combative, “ask for forgiveness, not permission” startup of the past.

His announcement today echoes a sentiment Khosrowshahi expressed in the days after London regulators decided to ban Uber in the city. In a memo to staff, Khosrowshahi wrote:

Going forward, it’s critical that we act with integrity in everything we do, and learn how to be a better partner to every city we operate in. That doesn’t mean abandoning our principles—we will vigorously appeal TfL’s decision—but rather building trust through our actions and our behavior. In doing so, we will show that Uber is not just a really great product, but a really great company that is meaningfully contributing to society, beyond its business and its bottom line.

For some, the idea of Uber becoming the dominant bundle provider for most transportation transactions in a city may be cause for concern. But it could increase utilization of public transit, e-bikes and car-rental services by simply making it easier to access those things.

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