Uber expands its SaaS offerings to three agencies

April 15, 2021
Denver RTD, Cecil County Transit and Porterville Transit will be rolling out on-demand transit options in the next few weeks.

Uber has inked deals with three transit agencies involving the company’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) program. Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD), Cecil County Transit in Maryland and Porterville Transit in California will be utilizing Uber’s software to bring different versions of on-demand transit to their communities.

Uber says the goal of its SaaS program is to “help create a more equitable, connected and efficient public transit,” which is a supported goal of the company’s “Transit Horizons Towards a New Model of Public Transportation” paper. The paper outlines Uber’s views of transit’s future, which includes expanded transportation modes, agencies rising to the task of mobility managers and greater integration.

Denver RTD will be the first to launch its on-demand service for Access-a-Ride customers in select zip codes within the agency’s district. The pilot program has been in development for nearly two years and will last through November.

Trips through the program must be booked through the Uber app and will be provided through a partnership with Uber and MV Transportation. Riders will have the option to select a wheelchair-accessible Access-a-Ride vehicle for a trip that meets the following criteria:

  • Trips must begin or end in four pilot service ZIP codes: 80013, 80014, 80015 and 80016.
  • All UberX, XL and now, WAV trips must be taken during peak service hours on weekdays (6-9 a.m. and 2-5 p.m.).
  • Four trips per day, and a total of 60 trips per month, are allowed per eligible Access-a-Ride customer.
  • These new software-as-a-service WAV trips will be subject to familiar payment structures for Access-a-Ride customers, with the first $2 charged to the payment method tied to the customer’s Uber account, and RTD covering up to an additional $20 of each fare. If the total trip cost is over $22, the customer will be responsible for that additional balance.

“RTD has been working for nearly two years to deploy a fully accessible on-demand solution for our Access-a-Ride customers,” said Paul Hamilton, senior manager of paratransit services. “With the addition of wheelchair-accessible vehicles, we will now be able to fully test response time and customer satisfaction on a small scale. Our goal is to be able to develop a permanent on-demand solution for the entire RTD service area by next year.”

Denver RTD is no stranger to launching inaugural programs through its partnership with Uber. In 2019, the agency became the first to work with Uber on journey planning and then with transit ticketing purchases directly from the Uber app.

David Reich, head of Uber Transit, said the company was thrilled to partner with Denver RTD.

“With this launch, Denver is the first city in the world to launch Uber Transit Journey Planning and transit ticketing in the Uber app while also leveraging Uber’s software to provide the most equitable, connected and accessible transportation possible,” said Reich.

Helping with recovery

In late April, Cecil Transit’s use of Uber’s software will allow the agency to deploy vehicles to Cecil County riders in recovery who are seeking access to employment, essential services, appointments and recovery programs. The point-to-point closed loop system will be governed by Cecil Transit’s operations team.

"We're thrilled to partner with Uber Transit to help Cecil County’s recovery community have increased access to employment opportunities, essential services, appointments and programs. By creating an efficient point-to-point, on-demand mobility option for qualified passengers, we're removing barriers to recovery, increasing transit options and providing a rider-centric transit experience by using the Uber app," explained Transit Chief at Cecil Transit Suzanne Kalmbacher.

Access to essential services

In early May, Porterville Transit, between Fresno and Bakersfield, Calif., will launch its on-demand transit service to help riders access more convenient trips to essential establishments and locations around the city.

"Porterville Transit has a long history of implementing innovative programs that help keep our community connected. By partnering with Uber, we're helping riders more easily access an on-demand transit ride and unlock more equitable, reliable, and efficient mobility through the Uber app," said Porterville Transit Field Services Manager Richard Tree.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.