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Monday, August 24, 2015

Uber Launches New Service That's Basically a Bus — Only Worse

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 5:03 PM

click to enlarge DAVID WILSON/FLICKR
  • David Wilson/Flickr

Ask Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to describe his idea of a perfect ride and he’ll probably say: neverending.

This week, the beleaguered ride-hail company launches a new service in San Francisco called Smart Routes, whereby Uber drivers can pick up and drop off passengers along specific routes, thus edging one step closer to the perpetual ride that could be Kalanick’s newest cash cow.

As Buzzfeed reports, the service is currently in a pilot phase in San Francisco, with just two routes on offer: Fillmore Street between Haight and Bay, and Valencia Street between 15th and 26th. The idea is to make Ubering more cost effective than owning a car and more convenient than waiting for the bus.

But a bus is pretty much what Smart Routes is. Even Kalanick has described this new innovation as a “private bus-type service, but on demand and hyper-convenient.” The difference is that you can’t hail a bus...although whatever time you save by taking Uber is lost by your driver’s incompetence.

Since Smart Routes doesn’t provide door-to-door service, fares are discounted by $1 or more. Does this cut into drivers’ earnings? Per Buzzfeed: “[Uber] argues that Smart Routes will only maximize the efficiency of drivers’ time by getting them more passengers per hour.”

And more passengers per hour means even more opportunities for drivers to be exploited by the 1099 economy. 

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Jeremy Lybarger

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