“We want to work with Uber”, says UITP Secretary General

17th May 2017 Nick Michell

UITP Secretary General, Alain Flausch, has stated his desire for the organisation to speak to transport company Uber and possibly partner in an attempt to ensure that they are part of public transit in cities in the future.

Speaking at the UITP Global Public Transport Forum in Montreal, Flausch explained how Uber could be integrated into the public transport network in cities, if authorities are strong with their regulations and quotas of drivers.

“I think authorities need to be smart in not authorising Uber to be everywhere in the city,” said Flausch. “In the centre of the city where there is plenty of public transit and very structured metro lines, they should not be permitted or at least be regulated on the number of drivers that are allowed to be in these areas. In other places they could be complimentary because there is no reason why, if the public transport system is not good enough to bring everyone home, they can have a role to play in less dense areas. Of course this may be contradictory to their own appetite, as they want to have lots of clients, but that’s going to be the regulation side.”

The UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Montreal, Canada has attracted around 280 exhibitors from 40 countries and over 2200 participants representing 80 countries, with a theme of ‘LEAD the TRANSITion’, reflecting the rapid evolution underway in the public transport sector.

Flausch told of his belief that Uber have now realised their slightly aggressive approach to establishing themselves in cities, which may have worked in the past in the United States, is not necessarily going to work in the rest of the world, and that they need to partner and collaborate with city authorities.

“Depending on the type of journey you want to take, some of the options available to citizens are going to be better and more convenient than others,” added Flausch. “Of course there may be competition for Uber but that is where we think the authorities have a role to play, as they have the power to regulate the roads, and should not be swayed by the novelty and be able to react swiftly with an overall holistic view of how the public mobility system operates.”

He gave the example of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where they are trying to reduce the number of Uber drivers with a quota system, depending on the congestion of the city so that they don’t add to the traffic. He described how London was very pragmatic at the beginning, with the introduction of Uber, and immediately set conditions for the company and its drivers.

“But they have seen that there are now so many Uber cars on the roads of London that it is causing more congestion,” said Flausch. “So they need to come back, readdress this and set some quotas.”

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