Uber announced that it will acquire Routematch, an Atlanta-based company that develops software for public transportation agencies. The news comes amid the ride-hail company’s broader push into public transit.
Uber didn’t disclose the terms of the deal. Routematch, which was founded in 2000, sells software to public transit agencies for data management, dispatching, trip booking, and ticketing. Uber said the acquisition will help bolster its own efforts to integrate more public transportation services in its app, like route planning and ticket purchases.
The news comes on the heels of Uber’s announcement that it would begin selling the software that powers its ride-hailing business to transit agencies, with California’s Marin County transportation agency as the first customer. But the deal started small, powering logistics for just four wheelchair-accessible vans. The acquisition of Routematch, which has partnerships with over 500 public transportation agencies, appears geared toward finding new customers, and new revenue streams, for Uber’s software-as-as-service program.
Routematch has had some success helping small, rural communities improve their bus service. Last year, the company teamed up with the town of Bad Axe, Michigan, to provide on-demand, Uber-like free bus service for hundreds of Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria, who had relocated to the area for work. Routematch also assists officials in Cecil County, Maryland, to develop free, on-demand bus service for people with opioid addictions to travel to and from recovery meetings.
Over the years, Uber has been accused of directly competing with and poaching riders from subways, trains, and buses. Declining bus and subway ridership has been pegged to the rise of app-based ride-hailing in dozens of cities across the US. Recently, Uber has added transit directions and ticketing to its app in some cities, in the hopes that by giving transit equal footing in its app it can blunt that criticism.
Last year, Uber announced it would begin selling train and bus tickets through its app for customers in Denver, Colorado. Since then, the company has integrated public transportation schedules and directions into its app for over a dozen other cities. Less than a year later, Uber says that “over 2 million riders” have tried Uber Transit.
Uber also recently announced its plans to acquire grocery and food delivery service Postmates for $2.65 billion. The company is scrambling to expand its revenue-generating options as the pandemic continues to pummel its core transportation business. At the height of the pandemic in April, Uber said its ride-hailing division was down about 80 percent. The company cut over 25 percent of its workforce in response to the pandemic. And with the number of COVID cases spiking in many parts of the US, its losses are likely to grow worse.