Uber has offered London’s transport authority another olive branch in its battle to regain an operating licence in the city, by opening up its data on traffic and travel conditions ahead of a legal hearing in June.
The ride-hailing app said on Thursday that regulators and the public would be able to see anonymised information gathered by its 50,000 drivers in the capital. The data, which is available from Thursday, will show travel times during big events and at different times, with the aim of informing transport policy and infrastructure investment in the city.
The move comes just one month after Transport for London said it would introduce regulations to force ride-hailing apps to turn over travel data to the government.
“We’ve heard feedback from the cities we operate in that access to some of our aggregated data could help inform transport policy and future investments,” said Fred Jones, head of UK cities at Uber. “Under Uber’s new leadership we want to be a better partner to city planners and regulators.”
Uber has been locked in a dispute with TfL since last September, when the regulator revoked its licence to operate in London over concerns it was not a “fit and proper” company because of public safety problems.
London is Uber’s biggest European market, with 3.5m users. TfL’s decision rocked the company, which is facing a tougher regulatory environment across the EU after the European Court of Justice ruled it should be treated as a traditional taxi business, instead of a technology platform.
Uber has appealed against the licence ban in London and can continue operating in the city ahead of a legal hearing in June. But the company has rolled out a series of changes in recent months intended to win over TfL even before the hearing begins.
One day after TfL outlined plans for new regulations on high-tech transport companies, Uber said it would start reporting violent incidents to the police. It has also capped the number of hours UK drivers can work before they take a break, in response to criticisms that tired drivers are a risk on the road.
The decisions form part of a more conciliatory stance struck by Uber’s new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over from the company’s hard-nosed founder Travis Kalanick last year.
Mr Khosrowshahi has spent the first months of his tenure cleaning up many of the legal disputes facing Uber. Within weeks of his appointment as chief executive in August, he flew to London to discuss the licence ban with Mike Brown, TfL’s commissioner.
Uber already shares its data with regulators in Manila, Sydney, Washington DC, Boston, Bogotá, Johannesburg and Paris, and will also begin to do so in Manchester and Birmingham.
The Department for Transport said the move “has the potential to hugely improve transport planning”.
“The tool can provide transport planners with useful information on congestion trends and help measure the impact of road closures, as well as other issues impacting the future of cities.”
TfL said: “We welcome any move that has the potential to provide a greater insight into how people move around London.”