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Uber And Hyperloop Threaten To Reshape London

Transport innovations like Uber and Hyperloop are going to remake London, and other U.K. cities.

Long-distance commuting, urban fringe development, a slowdown in airport development and more inner city sites reassigned from car parking to alternative commercial uses are on the way, Uber’s head of northern cities, Neil McGonigle, and Hyperloop One global field operations manager Paul Smith said at Bisnow’s London Building for the Future event Wednesday.

One property in Manchester is on the cutting edge of this trend.


Younger Londoners will like the changes new tech like Hyperloop, the futuristic transport system aiming for speeds of up to 500 mph, will bring, Smith and McGonigle said during an animated discussion.

“New transport solutions will be disruptive, but at the same time massively complementary to existing transport modes integrating with existing services like trains or Uber,” Smith said. “I see no reason why you can’t integrate Hyperloop with the Uber app, so when you press a button instead of going from here to Hammersmith you go from here to Edinburgh so we’re disrupting short-haul flights and rail.”

However, both experts agreed new transport technologies would mesh with public transport.

McGonigle said: “The evidence from the United States is that people using Uber are more likely to use public transport. Something like 30% of Uber trips in London start or end 200 metres from a train or tube station.”

Transport for London is deciding whether to reverse its decision to revoke Uber’s license to operate in the capital.

“The night tube wasn’t on the face of it a great thing for Uber, and we saw a marked drop in Uber use around Central Zone 1 stations. But look at the outer zones, and there was a large uplift, so people are not just swapping cars for Uber, but using Uber with existing transport, together.”

“Multi-modality is the way to go — whether that is with bike-sharing or ride-sharing, or hyperloop, all potentially via a single app,” McGonigle said.


A new partnership in Manchester between Uber and developer Moda Living shows the way transport can change cities, McGonigle said.

Incorporating PropTech into every Moda development, Uber will offer residents up to £100 credits per month that they can access via their Moda resident app. In the first collaboration of its kind in Britain, Uber credits will be given to every resident that agrees not to have a car parking space within a Moda development.

Uber credit will allow residents to press a button and get a ride, reducing the need for city centre car ownership.

This will also allow Moda to swap the space previously used for car parking for greater amenities within the development, including fitness centres and media rooms.

Moda, backed by Apache Capital Partners, is delivering more than 6,000 apartments across the U.K. with major city centre developments in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham, all cities where Uber operates. Its first scheme, Angel Gardens in Manchester’s NOMA neighbourhood, is under construction and will house close to 900 residents when it completes in 2019.

McGonigle said Uber did a study in London that found 28% had already given up vehicle ownership because of the availability of ride-sharing and public transportation.

“In Manchester, we’ve agreed with Moda Living because Generation Y and the millennials wanting to live in big cities have no real desire for car ownership. So rather than build dedicated car parking, the developers are paring it back to a bare minimum, and that releases the space freed for retail, or housing, or other things that appeal to millennials like gyms or restaurants.”


Arup's Alexander Jan, Uber's Neil McGonigle and Hyperloop One's Paul Smith at Bisnow's London Building for the Future event

Hyperloop, which is proposing U.K. routes from Glasgow to Liverpool and Edinburgh to London as part of a global first phase of 10, also expects to reshape the city through new travel patterns.

“The HS2 line to Manchester will be almost commutable to London, but on Hyperloop we reckon it would be a 25-minute journey, so new transport technologies mean where you live and work don’t have to be in the same space,” Smith said.

He also thinks it could impact airport capacity. “Maybe the discussion shouldn’t be about a third runway at Heathrow but about using Hyperloop for a six- or seven-minute connection time to an air force base 50 miles away.”

Arup director of city economics Alexander Jan, the panel moderator, added: “New modes of transport reinforce the existing focus on reinvigorating city centre, but it also brings a pressure which says that with shorter journey times it might increase development pressure on the fringes of our cities.”