The $70 Billion firm is searching for abandoned storage and industrial space to be developed into car parks for their drivers to use; the huge, purpose built car parks expected to reduce customer waiting times and reduce congestion on London’s roads.
After a series of rows with locals concerning Uber cars blocking spaces near airports, the controversial car sharing app is trying to rectify the situation.
Last year, drivers waiting at Gatwick were given spaces on Horley High Street by the council but locals were still unhappy. Parking Manager Gavin Handford said the High Street car park was underused and the move would “enable the council to better monitor the use of its car park by Uber drivers”.
Similarly for City airport, drivers were given nearby Newland Street as a parking depot but locals were still disrupted by waiting cars and voiced their concerns.
At Heathrow, all cabs have been allocated an joint 800 car waiting area to reduce congestion in surrounding areas, but the space isn’t enough for the rampant popularity of Uber who have reportedly hired BNP Paribas Real Estate to advise them in their search for appropriate land.
In true development style the tech firm are aiming to acquire sites, develop them into workable car parks and partner with local logistics operators, consultants and councils to ensure they are fully compliant with planning and access regulations.
The taxi technology’s drivers billed more than £100m in UK fares in 2016, up 105% compared to the previous year thanks to revenue almost doubling.
But it hasn’t been an easy year for the usually upbeat company. Detailed accusations of sexual harassment from a former female employee were revealed to the public, swiftly followed by the leaking of a video showing Billionaire Chief Exec Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver.
The CEO allegedly said, “You know what, some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own s***. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck.” This led to Rachel Whetstone, Uber’s Head of Public Relations, quitting with speculation the multiple lawsuits and the ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality has left the ride-hailing giant’s reputation in tatters.
This need to accommodate huge separate sites for Uber drivers illustrates the growing influence of the ride-hailing app, and this is just the beginning.
DMZ thinks companies like Uber have the ability to reshape the way in which cities like London are formed, allowing developers to replace redundant, clunky domestic car parks in city centres as the public migrate to car sharing. If this seems too far fetched, consider the level of growth and disruption already experienced – in just 5 years the firm has gone from zero to 30,000 drivers in London, is now available in 20 towns and cities in the UK and has completed over 1 billion trips worldwide.
Developers are already acknowledging the influence of car sharing, with new projects in London and New York offering membership to electric car sharing clubs or Uber credit in place of a car parking space. DMZ would advise multi-unit developers in central London to address this trend in their plans, as well as keep an eye out for centrally based car parks which might be available soon!