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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

32 mins ago - World

China and Russia vaccinate the world — for now

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While the U.S. and Europe focus on vaccinating their own populations, China and Russia are sending millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world.

Why it matters: China's double success in controlling its domestic outbreak and producing several viable vaccines has allowed it to focus on providing doses abroad — an effort that could help to save lives across several continents.

Ina Fried, author of Login
41 mins ago - Technology

Report: China will dominate AI unless U.S. invests more

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S., which once had a dominant head start in artificial intelligence, now has just a few year's lead on China and risks being overtaken unless government steps in, according to a new report to Congress and the White House.

Why it matters: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who chaired the committee that issued the report, tells Axios that the U.S. risks dire consequences if it fails to both invest in key technologies and fully integrate AI into the military.

Americans agree about more issues than they realize

Data: Populace Inc.; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Many Americans assume the rest of the country doesn't share their political and policy priorities — but they're often wrong, according to new polling by Populace, first seen by Axios.

Why it matters: The polling reveals that despite growing political polarization, Americans share similar long-term goals and priorities for the country.