When a rider in Marin opens the Uber app, he/she/they will see a new option called “Marin...

When a rider in Marin opens the Uber app, he/she/they will see a new option called “Marin Connect” that can be booked as it would with UberX. This is just one of the examples of trends coming down the road for transit.


Uber released a thought paper, “Transit Horizons: Toward A New Model of Public Transportation,” which gathers feedback from public transit leaders and taps into economic models, rider travel trends, and technology developments to offer insights the company hopes will “spark a few ideas” as the industry begins to look ahead at the changing mobility models in communities nationwide.

Structural changes around unemployment, rider preferences, and working from home are likely to linger and still impact public transit well into 2021 and beyond. Because of this, Uber’s Transit team looked at how to build resilient alternative models for public transit. Top forecasts for the future include:

  • Travel patterns and density can help agencies determine where on-demand service could work best for riders and agencies.
  • Pockets for significant cost savings exist today by incorporating on-demand service delivery models into current fixed-route or demand-response models.
  • Ridesharing and on-demand service can help increase equity and allow for rider and geographic expansion.
  • Rather than planning once every few years, network and service planning and redesign will occur monthly, weekly, or even daily to reflect actual rider travel patterns.
  • Rider travel patterns will dictate the future of transportation.
  • Transit managers will become mobility managers.

Overall, the paper looks at the changing role of public transit agencies as they look to expand their network to increase mobility options in the communities they serve. While stressing that bus and rail services remain the most efficient way to move masses of people, the report also identifies the potential increases in efficiencies and decreases in costs that could be found through these “alternative” modes of transportation, focusing on five key points:  

  • Ideas on how to create resiliency through new business models, service models, cost structure, and technologies.
  • How to create an optimal mix of rideshare services for increased rider satisfaction and cost reduction.
  • The changing role of transit manager to mobility manager.
  • How to shift from a fixed cost structure to one that flexes with true rider demand.
  • How technology can be applied to merge different transit service delivery models.

Read the full paper here.