Uber Spreads its Wings in Transit, Logistics

Recently we covered Uber’s $2.65 billion acquisition of Postmates. That move was designed to gain market share in the hypercompetitive meal delivery space. Perhaps while avoiding antitrust scrutiny.

This week, Uber went small with an acquisition designed to improve the ride-hailing company’s integration with public transportation systems. Uber has acquired Routematch, an Atlanta-based software company that builds tools that help more than 500 transit systems operate more efficiently, with an emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility.

As TechCrunch notes, the deal appears to be a way for Uber to become a SaaS platform for transit agencies. Routematch provides software for trip planning, vehicle tracking, payment, and tools for fixed-route transit like buses as well as paratransit services.

In addition, Routematch offers RouteShout. This is a trip planning app for transit riders that includes transit schedules and provides push updates on schedule changes, late arrivals, and so on.

Unfortunately, deal terms were kept under wraps. We can assume the deal is small, but perhaps north of a rounding error. Routematch is a 20-year-old company with roughly 170 employees.

Reimagining Public Transit?

Uber statement’s announcing the deal suggests the acquisition is about combining skillsets to build something that re-imagines public transit. Otherwise, it’s just so much PR hyperbole.

“This acquisition brings together Uber’s expertise in on-demand, global mobility technologies with Routematch’s proven capabilities across paratransit, payments, fixed-route tools, and trip planning services. Both companies believe it will create new innovations that make it easier for agencies to provide the right transportation solutions to their riders, through an expanded suite of technologies.”

It’s not hard to imagine Uber wanting to look at ways to close the gaps in public transit. One vision we can see this acquisition furthering is the idea of a unified trip planning app. This would integrate mapping and route planning, public transit (including payments), and ride-hailing in a single unified app.

In fact, Uber recently rolled out a partnership that seems to be a step in this direction. It announced a deal with 15 transit agencies in Ohio and Kentucky to offer transit fare purchases within the Uber app. Routematch does not appear to be involved in this partnership.

We did find one existing example of a unified transit app. Not surprisingly it’s called Transit and it includes the integrations you would expect, including Uber and Lyft. Still, we imagine this is a vision Uber would want to own.

In fact, Uber hints (if obliquely) at this notion in the release.

“We are extremely excited to bring together ideas, products, and insights from our team’s collective expertise. As allies of public transit, we look forward to finding new ways our technologies can improve transit riders’ end-to-end experiences.”

Focus on Freight

In other Uber news, according to Pitchbook, Uber is in talks to raise $500 million for Uber Freight. If successful, this would value Uber Freight, which operates as a standalone business, at about $4 billion. Uber’s current market cap is about $57 billion.

Uber Freight, as you might imagine, operates akin to its ride-hailing business, just for freight loads instead of millennials.

Related Localogy Coverage

What Comes in the Wake of the Uber Eats-Postmates Deal?

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