You may have used the mobile app for getting a lift, but Uber is a whole lot more than this, and you can own a piece of it now.
The tech company has revolutionised transport by being the first to let ordinary people ‘sell’ their empty car seats to verified strangers. It’s like Airbnb using mobile to help homeowners rent out their spare rooms to travellers, but with cars and for trips, not stays. The service has made it easier for us to get around city spaces and has created many new jobs all over the world.
This revolution has also had some unforeseen and unfortunate consequences. Uber has come under fire for its part in creating more congestion in the inner-city. It has also been criticised for its contribution to carbon emissions in an era of climate change. “Ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft have added 5.7 billion miles of driving annually,” states the Verge, “in cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.” The worldwide start-up has even been in trouble for ‘stealing’ customers from public transport as fewer people take buses and trains when a taxi is a tap away.
The criticism hasn’t stopped the company from joining the public market and listing its IPO on the stock exchange. Since the first week of May, you can buy shares in the biggest rideshare start-up on earth, as well as catching a ride with it. Uber debuted at a whopping $82.4 billion (R1.19 trillion), which bodes well for investors. But what about the negative press?
Like any start-up that the world has started to take really seriously (and invest in), it’s in Uber’s own interests to improve its offering and its impact all the time. Its latest gestures benefit customers and city councils across the world and suggest that Uber’s conscience is finally catching up with its commercial growth.
Ever had to rush to the office, but also finish off a complicated report at the same time? A bit of silence goes a long way when you’re under pressure, which is why their new silent rides are so cool. Its luxury service lets you choose ‘happy to chat’ with your driver, or request silence. There are other new perks in this class, too. Sick and driving to the doctor with a fever? Pre-ordering aircon might help – ask the driver to set the temperature to suit your needs before you climb in. Too many shopping bags to manage? Request luggage assistance ahead of time and your driver will get out and help you out.
Uber is now supporting other public transport in its app. It recently added live subway and bus schedules, comparisons of trip duration, and costs. It plans to include public transport options inside the app across the world, but has started with Denver, Colorado, USA. This gives the user more choice and gives public transport more exposure to potential customers on Uber’s widespread and popular platform. It’s great for smallish groups travelling together, or for bumping into a friend or colleague on the commute home.
Uber gets a lot of data from its service – all those rides are measured and recorded by the app, and Uber already shares much of this on Uber Movement. Used smartly, city councils could use it to reduce congestion by better coordinating private and public transport vehicles. It has now added driving speeds to the service “to give city planners and experts a view of the flow of traffic on their streets over time so they can make more informed decisions around traffic management,” reports Andrew J. Hawkins on The Verge.
From the individual to the whole, these are impressive moves in the bid to be “the best one-stop shop for transportation” in the world.