Uber: Mobility as a Service innovation in France

As the French newspaper "Le Monde" reports today, Uber is stepping into the shoes of public transportation in the French region of Nice - at least during the late hours

Nice dispose d’une ligne de tramway qui fonctionne jusqu’à 2 h 30 du matin, mais les 17 lignes de bus, qui sont en correspondance avec elle, s’arrêtent de rouler à 20 heures. Dans le cadre d’un projet pilote d’un an, nous allons proposer aux 50 000 abonnés des transports niçois qui se rendent en tramway dans une des zones desservies le jour par ces lignes de bus, une offre de transport individuel, via Uber, au prix fixe de 6 euros
— Philippe Pradal - Premier Adjoint au Maire de Nice (Source: Le Monde)

The announcement by the former mayor of Nice (currently First Assistant to the Mayor), Mr. Philippe Pradal, explains that although Nice has a tram line that operates until 2.30am daily, the 17 bus routes that serve the region stop their service at 8pm every night. Thus, the French region decided to pilot a one-year programme that will allow 50,000 users of the transportation system to ride an Uber to their destination for a fixed price of 6EUR (approximately $7).

Although the exact details are not yet known, Mr. Alexandre Droulers, General Manager of New Mobility Projects for Western Europe, told "Le Monde" that the service will be available to people moving from six specific stations of the tramway to any one of the geographical areas chosen by Uber and the City of Nice, or vice versa. 

According to the report, the solution by Uber and the City of Nice is a first in this sector. The local government and the ridesharing giant will reimburse the drivers for any amount exceeding the fixed price of 6EUR (the amount that riders will be contributing towards the ride). As Philippe Pradal notes, the City of Nice has already budgeted for 30,000EUR ($35,000) in subsidies towards this service - "if the money runs out quickly, we will know the service works", he said. 

It is not yet known whether the service will only be available to single riders, in a similar vein to Uber POOL, or whether each rider will be afforded their own vehicle accommodating up to four people (similarly to UberX) for the fixed price of 6EUR. Additionally, it has not been specified whether riders will be able to hail an Uber vehicle from any location within the predetermined areas, or whether the Uber app (that will presumably be used for this service) will require them to take a short walk to a convenient location nearby (as Uber EXPRESSpool requires). 

The service constitutes a first and is part of a concept known as Mobility as a Service - or MaaS, which is often touted as the future of urban transportation. MaaS brings together transportation services from public and private organisation, and allows users to move around the city using a unified gateway (a mobile app, in this case), often paying for all services with a single account. 

Andrew Kyprianides