Uber plans to add long-distance travel bookings to its UK app later this year, including intercity train, coach and flight, as chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi reboots the ‘super-app’ strategy he first outlined several years ago.
The plan is to expand Uber’s ride-booking app to a one-stop shop for travel, which may eventually include hotels. It aims to provide a “seamless door-to-door experience,” said Jamie Haywood, Uber’s regional general manager for the UK, Northern and Eastern Europe.
The UK, one of Uber’s largest markets outside of North America, will pilot the service before a comprehensive rollout.
The company hopes that the addition of new types of transport will encourage the core ride-hailing business, with customers using its driver network to get to the transit hub, as well as earning commissions when customers book train or bus fares. Prior to the Covid injury, about 15 percent of Uber trips were made at airports, so the company expects to combine flight bookings and increase these high-margin rides by offering tickets.
Khosrowshahi Uber has started talking about becoming a platform for a wide range of mobility options – some in Silicon Valley have branded it as a ‘super app’ – in 2018, a year after he was appointed CEO. However, when the coronavirus epidemic halted the travel and transportation industry, Uber focused on expanding its food supply business.
After adding electric bikes and the London Underground link to his UK app in 2019, Haywood said: “Covid has made it a little harder for us to move forward as fast as we want to. This is a major blow to the new transportation system, and we would like to point out that this is a very important growth lever for us in the years to come. “
Last summer, the UK was one of Uber’s largest markets where passenger numbers returned to pre-epidemic levels. The number of users across rides and food delivery has reached 20 million in the last 12 months.
After years of regulatory uncertainty over its ability to operate in London, the capital’s transport authorities also granted Uber a 30-month license in March. “It’s good to be able to turn a page and look forward to a lot more certainty,” Haywood said.
In recent months, Uber has been forced to double its UK rents. It raised them in November to attract more drivers and the company should have a direct deal with passengers after a court ruled in December last month to include VAT.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Flight bookings will open later this year, Howard said, and hotel reservations could follow next year.
Starting as a competitor to traditional taxis and high-end limo, Uber has gradually added more features to its app over the years, ranging from its restaurants and grocery deliveries to bikes and scooters. However, the ability to purchase tickets for public transport was largely limited to one-way trials, such as the shared minibus in Egypt or the Thames commuter ferry in London, which was rebranded as ‘Uber Boat’ in 2020.