Uber is pitching for public subsidies to fill the gaps in the UK’s public transport network.
The taxi app company believes car hire firms can reduce congestion and traffic emissions if given the chance to work directly with local authorities and complement local transport.
The details appear in a December submission to the UK government’s Transport Committee, which is currently examining how to reduce urban congestion.
One proposed initiative is subsidised fares for passengers travelling to and from their nearest station. The idea is to encourage suburban commuters to leave their cars at home, reducing congestion on the roads and at station car parks.
Similarly, it wants to roll out UberCommute in the UK, a car-pooling service which matches commuters with a private car owner going in the same direction. UberCommute first launched in Chengdu, China with the goal of reducing congestion.
Uber also wants “personalised budgets” for passengers with reduced mobility who need affordable door-to-door transport, and a pilot scheme targeted at older people.
The company claims all of this is possible only with deregulation, a case it has made many times before.
“Excessively onerous barriers to entry to driving on platforms such as Uber could limit the ability of policy makers to shift people away from private cars to a transport ecosystem that can help make the most of the public transport network and ease congestion,” the company wrote.
Similar local transport initiatives have attracted criticism in the US, with some cities considering transport service cuts as a result of Uber and rival Lyft.
Uber is in the process of trying to overturn a UK employment tribunal ruling that its drivers are classed as workers, and thus entitled to sick pay, the minimum wage, and holiday.
The company is not currently in talks with UK local authorities on the proposals, a spokesman told Business Insider.
David Metz, honorary professor at UCL’s Centre of Transport Studies and former chief scientist for the Department of Transport, told Business Insider that Uber deserved credit for its ideas.
He suggested that Uber’s service to older or disabled people may be more effective than Dial-a-Ride, the door-to-door transport option offered by Transport for London.
But he added that Uber should not be permitted to become “a monopoly” or to “exploit” local authority funding.
Here are Uber’s proposals in full from its submission to the Transport Committee:
“Local authorities should therefore support the mass adoption of technology-powered car pooling services. As a starting point, we could explore piloting a scheme similar to California’s POOLtrain on a major route outside of London that extends beyond the current uberPOOL boundary. Local authorities could also consider the use of new technology and services to:
Conduct a feasibility study into how local taxi and PHV use can complement public transport on a city’s outskirts to decrease congestion in the centre.
Situate dedicated pick-up and drop-off points at cities’ outlying stations to make ‘first and last mile’ connections easier and their availability more prominent.
Work with taxi and PHV operators in subsidising fares to and from stations in outlying areas, so encouraging train passengers to leave their cars at home when accessing their nearest station.
Offer personalised budgets for door-to-door transport, allowing people with disabilities or access needs to take advantage of innovative new services to travel easily and affordably around their city.
Establish a pilot scheme aimed at increasing access to community hubs for older people and those with limited mobility.
Pilot a service similar to uberCOMMUTE in Chicago, whereby we connect commuters on their daily drives with passengers heading the same way. Private car owners can select the pooling option on the Uber app and are paired with another passenger or fellow commuter who is travelling in a similar direction.”
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