Uber has rolled out a new feature to users in London as it looks to get regulators and investors onside ahead of its upcoming stock market listing.
The new feature — also available in Denver, Colorado — means that Uber users in London will now see real time underground train and bus data in addition to tram, shuttle, river boat, overground rail information, as well as private hire car journeys.
The change means Uber’s app can now become a one stop shop for transportation and a direct rival to platforms like Citymapper, Google Maps, and Apple Maps.
The feature is underpinned by publicly available data from Transport for London (TfL), which manages the transport system in Greater London, although TfL was not involved in the development of the feature.
“Our data is open to everyone, with more than 675 mobile phone and online apps already powered by our feeds,” said a TfL spokesperson.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote on Twitter that the move is designed to “help people replace their car with their phone” as he tweeted a photo of himself using the feature in the Uber app on Monday.
In the same tweet, Khosrowshahi added there is “more to come,” but an Uber spokesperson declined to comment when asked if Uber planned to roll out the public transport feature to other cities.
Uber hasn’t had the easiest of rides in London
Uber launched in London in June 2012 and the company has been repeatedly attacked by the city’s iconic black cab drivers who claim that it doesn’t operate by the rules.
Uber lost its licence to operate in London in September 2017 after TfL concluded that the company didn’t treat serious driver offenses in the way that it should. TfL also took issue with the company’s approach to driver medical and safety checks, as well as the use of its secret “Greyball” software that helped Uber to avoid any officials that might be trying to hail an Uber as part of a sting operation.
After being stripped of its operating licence, Uber appealed and the Westminster Magistrates Court awarded Uber a 15-month probationary licence in June 2018. At the time, Uber was told that it must continue to show it is reforming.
FORBES asked TfL whether it views the move as a step in the right direction but the public body has yet to respond. Investors are likely to look favourably at the new feature, which demonstrates a shift in strategy for the company.
Uber has also been widely blamed for a surge in the number of private hire cars in Britain’s capital city, which has led to increased congestion. Uber is estimated to have over 110,000 drivers active on London’s streets.
David Reich, head of transit at Uber, said in a statement:
“With 3.5 million Londoners relying on Uber, we recognise the important responsibilities that come with being a good partner to this great global city.”
Uber’s battles are by no means confined to London. Since Travis Kallanick, Garrett Camp and Ryan Graves founded Uber in San Francisco, California, in March 2009, the ride-hailing app has been involved in controversy after controversy in cities around the world, leading to the #DeleteUber movement.
Kalanick stepped down as CEO in June 2017 after multiple shareholders reportedly insisted that he resign. In November 2017, new CEO Khosrowshahi dropped the “win at all costs” strategy and set about implementing a series of new values for the business, including “we do the right thing”.
Since Khosrowshahi took over, he has been getting Uber’s affairs in order ahead of the company’s stock market listing. Uber announced last week that it plans to price its shares between $44 and $50 each, which would value the business atup to $83.8 billion.