Gord Price: I’ve been predicting the rise of the “Transportation Service Provider” – a consolidator of every mode of movement imaginable, integrated with technology, and designed to provide consumers with a suite of services for which they pay, as with telecommunications, one provider with a lot of money. Assuming a single provider or oligopoly can emerge.
So look to see some of the giants try to get even bigger and more diverse as fast as possible in order to dominate the market. Here’s the latest example.
SAN FRANCISCO — It’s Uber, but for bicycles.
For the first time in Uber’s history, the company is offering rides on roads in the United States using something other than cars. Starting next week, it will let certain users in San Francisco reserve pedal-assist electric bicycles through its app. The idea is that people will see the bicycles as a cheaper and faster alternative — not a huge stretch of the imagination for anyone who has been stuck in Friday evening gridlock traffic in San Francisco.
Uber is not supplying its own bicycles. It is working with Jump Bikes, a bike-sharing service that secured a permit in January to put 250 motorized bicycles — making it easier to tackle San Francisco’s steep hills — in locations throughout the city.
The pilot program is the latest indication of Uber’s ambitions to move beyond its ride-hailing origins. It is also working on autonomous trucking services, while aggressively expanding into the food delivery market with Uber Eats.