Citymapper and Uber partner to create app for new routes in clogged Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 12:47am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 1:36am

Transport app Citymapper has partnered with Uber to offer Hongkongers new routes in its app that combine both public transport and private rides, as people increasingly use ride-hailing services as part of their commute, according to executives.

“Hong Kong has an incredible transportation network, whether it’s the MTR or the ferries or Uber. However, traditionally all journey-planning apps have approached this separately, either routing public transport, or routing cars,” said Gene Soo, general manager for Citymapper in Hong Kong.

“But Citymapper is reinventing routing in the era of real-time and multiple modes of transport [by combining both].”

On the Citymapper app, users can now choose to enable an option that displays a combination of Uber rides together with public transport along with the usual public transit routes, to provide a faster and possibly even cheaper way to travel.

The new option is also suited to how Hongkongers are adapting their travelling habits as new ways of hailing rides emerge with the advent of companies such as Uber.

Statistics from Uber show that over 30 per cent of Uber rides in Hong Kong either begin or end near an MTR station, evidence that Hongkongers utilise the ride-hailing service for the first or last leg of their journey, according to Kenneth She, head of Uber in Hong Kong.

“Studies show that the more users use ridesharing services like Uber, the more they use public transportation,” said She.

Soo also said that commuters can reduce travelling costs by picking a route that allows them to take public transport and an Uber for part of the journey, as opposed to travelling with an Uber the entire way to their destination.

To include real-time information about Uber into Citymapper, the company integrated Uber’s open API into the app, allowing Citymapper to display information like fare estimates and how long it takes the nearest Uber to arrive for the user.

Citymapper draws on available data about public transport in Hong Kong to suggest the different routes for its users, and recently linked up with Hong Kong Tramways to include real-time operational data in its app.

But while cities like Singapore and London have its public transit data available publicly for companies to use, Soo said that data in Hong Kong is more difficult to obtain as operators are less willing to share the information since there is no commercial benefit.