Don’t Be Fooled: Uber Doesn’t Care About Transit

Uber made a big splash a few weeks ago when it announced it was adding transit directions in Denver, and that users would even be able to buy transit passes through the Uber app in the future. Many tech publications uncritically reported this as a great move by Uber and a forward-thinking initiative by the city of Denver — but this framing ignores the wider context in which the announcement took place.

Anyone who pays any attention to Uber knows the evidence it’s making traffic congestion worse and reducing transit ridership is accumulating, all while it has consistently failed to demonstrate to its investors any hint of a path to profitability. However, in lieu of profitability, Uber is trying to convince investors ahead of its IPO that it’s offering something even better, which will eventually allow it to extract sizeable rents: platform monopoly.

That is the lens through which the Denver partnership should be seen. It’s not a progressive move, but a combined PR stunt, data play, and effort to bolster its monopoly credentials. And all of these things are cause for concern.

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