Uber Technologies has promised 50,000 new jobs in Europe from its service in 2015 alone, in an overture to get more cities on the continent to approve its ride-hailing service.
“We want to make 2015 the year where we establish a new partnership with EU cities,” Uber CEO and cofounder Travis Kalanick said at the DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference in Munich on Sunday.
Kalanick said his company could take 400,000 cars off the road this year, and reduce congestion and emissions in Europe, by expanding its ride-sharing service, UberPool, and by efficient routing of cars.
Uber, which allows users to hail taxis from a smartphone app, has, however, fallen foul of local authorities in a number of locations. In Delhi, Uber’s service was banned in December amid concerns about the company’s safety measures after a driver allegedly raped a woman passenger.
In Spain, the company’s operations in the country were banned at least temporarily in December by a Madrid commercial court for “unfair competition” and conducting unauthorized services. Last week, South Carolina ordered the company to halt operations until certain conditions are met.
Kalanick said he backed regulation that supports the “the policy principles” that drove previous rules, such as protecting rider and driver safety, promoting choice and competition, and growing tax revenue and economic growth.
Highlighting the role of Uber in creating jobs, Kalanick said that the company had 1.6 million unique riders in San Francisco, which has created the equivalent of 7,500 full-time jobs, while in New York city 1.9 million users provide 13,750 jobs.
Uber can go to any mayor in any city, and work out a regulatory framework that will help deliver jobs, and reduce congestion, Kalanick said.
However, certain cities are still governed by old transportation rules that are essentially governing an analog economy, Kalanick added. These were necessary in the old system where the only identifiers that could ensure a passenger’s safety and that he wasn’t overcharged were color schemes and meters on taxis.
However, there are also a set of rules that aim to protect the traditional taxi industry, sometimes by creating an artificial scarcity, Kalanick said.
With the new technology, it’s no longer an anonymous person getting into an anonymous person’s car, as there is a branded service like Uber in between, said Kalanick, who called for the freedom for consumers to connect with any form of transportation at different price points.
In 2014, 22 different jurisdictions in the U.S. passed new laws regulating ride-sharing, and this year the company plans to focus on pushing for progressive regulations in Europe, according to Uber. The company has growing operations in many countries in Europe like Sweden, Netherlands and Belgium, but is facing legal action from incumbents in Spain, France and Germany, Kalanick said. Competition authorities have, however, urged governments to repeal the outdated rules, he said. Progressive legislation is “being considered in the Netherlands, Brussels and Helsinki,” he added.
Uber also said it was open to sharing data with city officials in Europe, in a deal similar with the one it struck with Boston, where the company is sharing dates and times of trips, areas of pick-up and drop-off points, distance traveled and length of rides. The company said when making the announcement about the deal in Boston that trip-level data will be “anonymized,” compiled in a way that protects the privacy of riders and drivers, without providing further details.