Uber wants to be seen as complementary service

Leipzig - Uber sees itself as a complement to public transport and wants to work with authorities to lower congestion in cities, Jo Betram, Uber's regional general manager for the UK, Ireland and Nordics said.

She was a guest speaker at the global summit of the International Transport Forum (ITF) that came to an end in Leipzig on Friday.

"We have seen, for instance, that the demand for Uber services often peak late at night when public transport is less or not available. We also see many people using a combination of Uber and other modes of transport," explained Bertram.

An increasingly popular trend is using Uber to get to a public transport station and thus avoiding parking issues.

Bertram further stated that Uber is always looking for seemless ways for service provision. Although only a credit card payment option was initially used, a cash option was introduced in certain areas where credit card penetration is very low - in Nairobi for instance.

"We are always looking into how we can make Uber more accessible to people - also in areas where other transport options are not readily available," said Bertram.

During question time a man in the audience confronted Bertram about what he deemed to be the destruction by business models like Uber of social security in economies by, for instance causing less use of traditional taxi services. He was especially concerned about job losses that this could create.

In response, Bertram emphasised that ultimately the Uber-type business models are not just about impacts on social systems, but about the changing nature of work in the shared economy.

"It is relating to the autonomy of choice brought about in the shared economy. The only questions really are about how to provide safety and how to make it fair - and how to bridge the two worlds of the traditional and the shared economy," said Bertram.

"Ultimately we want to reduce the need for people to have to own or need a private car. This would, for instance, lead to less demand for parking and less congestion."

She is especially excited about the new shared ride service UberPool. It allows users to share rides - and the cost thereof - with someone else nearby. Uber then merely matches the driver of a car with another rider or riders taking a similar route and each pay only their own portion of the trip.

"We are working with agencies and authorities to help solve the questions of congestion," concluded Bertram.

* Fin24 is a guest at the International Transport Forum's summit in Leipzig.

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