Uber to open engineering hub
Chief executive wants service to be ‘one-stop shop for mobility in any city’
Uber Technologies Inc. is building a roadmap to become more than a ride-hailing app and it’s chief executive is indicating Toronto will figure into that transition.
Dara Khosrowshahi hinted at global plans for bus and train services, the expansion of its Jump bike and e-scooter rentals, more partnerships with public transit providers and autonomous vehicle efforts in an interview with The Canadian Press, where he stressed how important the city is to the company’s growth.
“We need to move beyond the car as being the main urban transportation mechanism. I believe a revolution is coming,” he said.
“We really want Uber to be the one-stop shop for mobility in any city.”
He made the remarks while he was in Toronto for the first time in his role with Uber to announce a new engineering hub — the company’s eighth outside of the U.S. — and a $200-million expansion of its self-driving vehicle centre in the city.
Both are expected to help the San Francisco-based tech giant build and update its infrastructure so it can continue to scale and offer more features and products to riders, drivers and cities.
The mobility revolution he said he is sensing will centre around single-occupancy electric bikes and scooters, which he called “magical.”
In March, Uber acquired Jump Bikes, an electric, dock-less bikesharing service it piloted in San Francisco, and in July it teamed up with Lime to bring electric scooters to its app in some markets.
“I hope that they show up here,” Khosrowshahi said. “It’s something that belongs in every city out there.”
He is even eyeing some more serious modes of transportation.
“We want Uber to make bus service available or train service as well,” he said.
But before any of those lofty plans can happen, he admitted, “there’s a huge amount of work to be done.”
Uber introduced a partnership in 2017 with the town of Innisfil, Ont., north of Toronto, that offers flat-fare rides between select destinations as an alternative to building a traditional public transit system.
Innisfil has estimated it will save the town more than $8 million a year, when compared with running a traditional bus service.
However, the company is still facing opposition to its service and struggles with regulation in numerous big cities around the globe, including Vancouver.
Uber will invest more than $200 million over five years on expanding its Advanced Technologies Group Research & Development Centre.