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Uber turns SaaS vendor with deal that bakes public transport authority into its app

Given the scoundrels in the world of software, could Uber be worse?

If you need software to arrange on-demand transport, there’s a new vendor you might consider for your shopping list: Uber.

Yes, that Uber: the scofflaw taxi-value-destroyer, reformed hive of wretched sexism , food-deliverer and believer that people who work for it aren’t employees until courts say so .

The company’s new status as a vendor emerged today in news [PDF] from the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), the agency that runs public transport in Marin County, a local government area to the north of San Francisco.

TAM has baked a new ride share option into the Uber app for its residents, who will be offered the chance to find “accessible, on-demand, shared-ride opportunities”.

The service is designed “for those in Marin who have challenges with first/last mile connections or finding wheelchair equipped vehicles” and operates in areas pf 2.5 square miles around half a dozen Marin County train stations. Vehicles in the scheme are six-seaters driven by TAM staff.

Uber’s head of transit David Reich described the deal as “our first ever Transit SaaS partnership”.

The deal sees TAM pay US480,000 Uber to consume its software as SaaS for a couple of years. Passengers’ fares all flow to TAM. But it only covers four vehicles.

Uber lost $8.5bn in 2019 but suggested it might finally find some back ink in 2020, a prediction made before a certain pandemic came along. With its cash pile far from infinite, finding customers for services like this is surely on Uber’s to-do list. ®

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