Uber Partners With Marin Transit As It Ventures Into Public Transportation

Marin Transit Connect, an on-demand ride service in Marin County, will be offered on the Uber app starting July 1. Photo courtesy of Charles Deluvio.

SAN RAFAEL—Beginning Wednesday, July 1, Marin Transit Connect, an on-demand service that allows users to request rides in shuttle vans designated by Marin Transit of Marin County, will transition to the Uber app platform.

Marin Transit Connect offers its services to destinations throughout San Rafael in the San Francisco Bay Area on weekdays.

Since its initial launch in June 2018, Marin Transit Connect has been housed on Marin Transit’s own smartphone app. Riders use the app to request a ride in one of the Marin Transit vans. Similar to the Uber ridesharing experience, the app allows the user to monitor the status of their pickup in real-time.

An example of a Marin Transit Connect shuttle van. Photo courtesy of Marin Transit’s website.

With this new Uber partnership, Marin Transit Connect will now be accessed directly through a “Marin Connect” tab in the Uber app.

The decision to partner with Uber came after what Marin Transit described as a “competitive bidding process” to choose a technology platform that would be able to support the Connect software, along with programs from the Transportation Authority of Marin, which has a coupon program for trips involving its Marin SMART rail stations.

Uber was chosen as the technology partner for Marin Transit and TAM because of its ability to streamline the services of both organizations on a single app. The program to conjoin Uber to Marin transportation systems has been named Connect2Transit.

Connect2Transit will allow riders to access real-time public transit details, request Connect shuttles, and claim TAM subsidies for UberPool rides. It should be noted that due to the temporary shut down of ridesharing as a result of COVID-19, the TAM subsidies will apply to UberX trips instead. The program will also allow users to compare their Marin Transit Connect ride to other options like public bus or rail services.

Along with this software transition, Marin Transit will be expanding the service area of Marin Transit Connect from only serving certain parts of San Rafael to operating within a 2.5-mile radius of Marin County SMART stations.

Marin Transit Connect has been free since March 20, but the service will begin charging again come July 1. The fare will be $4 per mile for the general public and $3 for registered Marin Access customers.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic threw off Uber’s business development, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has laid out a new plan rooted in expanding into the sphere of public transit, along with growing the company’s food delivery service, Uber Eats.

So far with public transit, Uber has started an initiative called Journey Planning, which details public transit information to help riders plan their public transit trips.

Uber’s entrance into the public transportation sphere has been deemed a positive development by some. Marin Transit Planning Analyst Cody Lowe said, “Being able to find transit within the Uber app environment is a good thing. Showing riders all of their mobility options is important, especially for older adults and riders with disabilities who require an affordable accessible option.”

The partnership with Marin Transit is another step in the direction of the company’s public transit venture. It is the first time that Uber has made its software platform available as a service or product.

An Uber spokesperson told the San Francisco News on Wednesday, June 17, “Public transit is the backbone of cities, and we want to continue partnering with them beyond our existing integrations of Journey Planning, ticketing, and more. We want to be a natural complement to their ability to move goods, services, and people.”