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Uber rolls out in-app public transit tips for Boston riders

Chris Ratcliff/Bloomber News

Long criticized for taking riders away from public transit, Uber on Monday is rolling out a new feature in Boston that will offer customers information on taking the subway, bus, or train to their destinations.

Similar to how Uber uses an icon of a ride-share car, the app will display the image of a white train car that leads to specific trip options to their destinations by the MBTA and the Logan Express bus service.

“We need to make sure we’re including all forms of transportation that matter to our riders,” said David Reich, head of transit at Uber.

After typing in a destination address, users will see a “Transit” label over the train car image, with an arrival time and price based on real-time data from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Upon clicking the Transit option, riders will see multiple trip options.


“The MBTA partnered with Uber to provide this new convenience as a means to provide our customers with the most efficient transportation choices to make those whether with the T or Uber or both,” said Danny Levy, chief customer officer for MBTA.

Boston is the third city to receive Uber’s public transit feature; it rolled out in Denver and London earlier this year. An Uber spokesperson said the company hopes all users in Boston will have the Transit feature within a few weeks.

Lyft has included a similar feature, called Nearby Transit, since February, according to a spokesperson, but not all local users have access to it yet.

These new features come as some public officials and transit advocates raise concerns about the amount of traffic Uber and Lyft is adding to Boston’s already congested streets. Earlier in June, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities reported that ride-hailing trips had increased by 25 percent in 2018, from the previous year, to 81.3 million rides across Massachusetts.


Lizzi Weyant, director of government affairs for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, said the transit option on the ride-hailing apps is a “good idea . . . but I don’t think it’s going to go far enough to meet all of our needs.”

Ride-hailing companies pay the state a 20-cent fee for each trip and Weyant said increasing the fee would help municipalities fight congestion by funding projects such as designated drop-off locations.

Allison Hagan can be reached at allison.hagan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @allisonhxgan.