I had the pleasure of interviewing Uber’s Marius Macku, Senior Associate of Public Policy & Government Relations, EU. We discuss the outlook for urban mobility.
Can you say a few words about your background and your current position at Uber?
Sure. I’ve joined Uber almost two years ago, leading our policy efforts around mobility in Europe and working with public authorities, non-profits, academics, mobility providers etc. to help understand what role Uber should play in the future of urban mobility. This is an extremely exciting field to be working in at the moment, with lots of cities eager to shift towards a more sustainable mobility and a whole range of new digital solutions offering shared mobility to people living in cities.
Before having joined Uber, I was leading our European and governmental affairs at Thalys, the French-Belgian high-speed train operator, during which time I also acted as the President of the European Commission’s Working Group on International Passenger Issues.
As you can I’m quite passionate about mobility.
What does data mean to Uber?
Data is at the core of what we do and it’s solely used for the purpose of improving our service. The technology we have put into place has created more transparency and accountability for consumers than ever before in transportation. The collected data allows us to create a feedback system which holds both riders and drivers accountable during a trip, and powers our dynamic pricing technology which allows us to meet demand and ensure reliability. Over time, this data has also allowed us to develop new services such as uberPOOL, a service where riders going in the same direction can share a ride, thereby preventing two riders heading in the same direction in two cars, which would simply add to the congestion we experience today.
Applications like Uber help drivers to verify the identity of passengers, and passengers to verify the identity of the driver. Each trip is tracked via smartphone GPS. The application generates a digital record of the trip, including a map of the route. These systems help to encourage safe, respectful and lawful behavior.
You share mobility data in Uber Movement. What is Uber Movement and what inspired you to develop it?
Uber Movement is a product which is completely free of charge and provides anonymized data from over two billion trips to help urban planning around the world. With this tool, urban designers, planners and city managers can make data-based decisions regarding local infrastructure, thus increasing urban livelihood. By understanding travel pattern data we can design smarter cities with parks instead of parking lots.
What are the biggest challenges in developing mobility and what are Uber’s answers to those challenges?
The key issue that cities are facing today, is the continued growth of personal car ownership. Today there are over 1.2 bn cars in the world, and in most cities the car represents over 80 percent of passenger traffic, making it the number one means of transport. With most of these cars being occupied by only one person at the time, this causes some serious congestion issues.
Along with the experts on this subject, we believe that the future of urban transportation has to be shared across a range of modes — from public transit, to bikeshare, to services like Uber. To truly combat private car ownership, it needs to be seamless, convenient, reliable and affordable to get around using a range of shared mobility services. We believe that having a greater variety of transportation options at your fingertips helps make it increasingly easy to live without a car.
That’s why we’ve started integrating more mobility options into our application like JUMP – the electric bikesharing service we’re planning to roll out across Europe soon, and Lime – a dockless electric scooter service. Additionally, we’re also working hard to find better ways we can partner with public transport providers to drive a fundamental shift from the prevailing paradigm of private car ownership.
We’ll see and hear you at the World Summit on Digital Built Environment WDBE 2018 in September. Apart from that, how can our readers contact you and learn more about your services?
Anyone who’s interested to find out more about Uber and our mission can directly contact me on where I’d be happy to answer any questions. We’ve also got a Medium page called “Under the Hood” which include lots of interesting posts from our team on the latest development, partnerships, data analyses we’re doing.