The ride-hailing giant says public transportation will continue to be the backbone of mobility.
In an open letter, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s Regional General Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, has called on European cities and countries to invest more in public transportation infrastructure.
Gore-Coty says that despite the shift towards Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) – that is, offering a variety of multi-modal options via apps – “public transport will continue to be the backbone of the future of mobility”.
He adds: "What we currently need to move efficiently through cities won’t change: high capacity, high-frequency systems running on dedicated rights of way such as metros, light rail lines, and upgraded bus systems."
Noting that services such as Uber can play a complementary role to public transportation, Gore-Coty cites research from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) suggesting that ride-sharing services reduce the number of cars on the road and increase the use of public transport. However, elsewhere the jury is still out on that issue.
Gore-Coty also points to evidence which suggests that the recent introduction of the night tube in London means people are combining public transport and apps like Uber to get around more efficiently.
As mobility needs are rapidly changing, this is the moment to reinforce investments in an integrated mobility framework that puts public transport at its core to accommodate for further growth in demand and reduce the current dependency on private cars.
He writes: “Against this background, and with many European public transport systems In many cities already operating at capacity, we are calling on the European Commission, governments and cities to invest more in public transport. As mobility needs are rapidly changing, this is the moment to reinforce investments in an integrated mobility framework that puts public transport at its core to accommodate for further growth in demand and reduce the current dependency on private cars.”
Uber has historically had something of an antagonistic relationship with city authorities over regulations, impact on traditional taxi firms and the number of vehicles. However, the company is apparently trying to shift gear towards more collaborative partnerships.
Gore-Coty says Uber understands that it needs to play its part in supporting cities to tackle transport challenges and is "committed to doing so in different ways".
In August, The City of San Francisco reached a deal with Uber and Lyft, allowing the city to tax a percentage of their net ride revenues and use the money towards transportation infrastructure and operations.
Also in San Francisco, JUMP e-bikes were recently integrated into the Uber app, reportedly helping to reduce car trips by 10 per cent.
Further, Uber launched a $10 million Global Fund for Sustainable Mobility to campaign for ideas that “put the long-term public interest over maintaining the mobility status quo”.
The company has also become a member of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), and has started introducing its urban planning tool, Uber Movement, in some European cities, including London, Paris, Lisbon and Amsterdam.
In October, along with Ford Motor Company and Lyft, Uber agreed to share data through the new SharedStreets data platform. The partnership with Uber will focus on a global dataset of driving speeds to understand better where and when drivers are speeding.
Uber is expected to launch an IPO in 2019.
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