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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber, Lyft and transportation agencies across the U.S. are encouraging customers to combine ride-hailing with public transit, ultimately to try to streamline travel options and payment.

Why it matters: These partnerships could fill in gaps in public transportation without worsening congestion. But they could also expose public transit riders to data privacy risks, and upend transit's business model.

What's happening: Aside from displaying transit schedules in their apps, Uber and Lyft also give discounts to customers who hail rides to and from public transit hubs.

The impact: The convenience is a huge selling point, but there could be unforeseen consequences.

  • Critics are concerned that private companies could control access to transit.
    • Ride-hailing companies could end up divvying up which services are available within their respective apps, creating parallel transportation systems.
  • Regulations around data sharing and customer data privacy have yet to be set.
    • It's unclear if Uber or Lyft could access public transit data and how it would be protected — and how much of their proprietary data would be shared with transportation agencies.
  • Pricing models could shift.
    • Ride-hailing prices in one case increased after a discount was offered.
    • It's eventually possible that transit riders could be siphoned off by ride hailing — or that companies could charge to offset discounted miles, or to feature transit within their apps.

Between the lines:

  • Neither Uber nor Lyft are profitable. Pivoting to become a multi-model platform could offer a sustainable business model.
  • Public transit agencies could develop their own next-generation apps to compete, but doing so is expensive and requires software expertise.

What we're watching: As partnerships between ride-hailing companies and public transit evolve, cities will need to create enforceable rules and regulations to make sure services remain accessible and affordable.

Raphael Gindrat is co-founder and CEO of Bestmile, which has developed a fleet-management platform.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.