In a move that may displease some taxi drivers, the controversial taxi App Uber has announced that not only are they planning on offering their services in Scotland but that they are also launching a new service delivering takeaways. Even though numerous countries across the world have criticised Uber drivers for their lack of skills and safety it seems as though this has done little to stop the company expanding at a rapid pace.
According to The Scotsman, Uber has recently applied for a licence that will allow it to operate in Glasgow and Edinburgh and is already recruiting new staff. An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said: “We can confirm Uber has lodged an application for a booking office in central Edinburgh. The applicant and any objectors will have the chance to present their case before a decision is made.” Meanwhile, a Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “We can confirm an application for a taxi booking office has been received [and] will be considered in due course.”
Naturally, taxi companies that are based in the Glasgow and Edinburgh areas are not happy with the news that Uber may soon be entering the market. According to one Edinburgh taxi firm, taxi drivers in the area could lose up to forty per cent of their business if Uber are allowed to operate in the area. Tony Kenmuir, director of Central Taxis in Edinburgh, said: “We cannot ignore an organisation like Uber when it is making headlines all over the world.
“However, we have reviewed the market in Edinburgh and the public is very well served by the taxi trade. There is a relatively high number of taxis for the size of population, and one of the newest fleets in the UK. I do not see a clear cut market for Uber here as standards are so high and vehicles are readily available.”
Stephen Flynn, vice-chair of Glasgow Taxis, also vocalised his concerns over the plans, and said: “When booking a taxi, the only way to ensure a fully licensed and disclosed vehicle and driver is to use a recognised company. Third-party systems can’t guarantee the same level of regulation and, when passenger safety should be absolutely paramount, that is concerning.”
As previously mentioned, concerns over the safety of Uber and its drivers has led to the App being banned in numerous countries including Spain. However, far from being discouraged by the Spanish government’s decision, the company has recently announced that they are planning on starting their own takeaway delivery service named “UberEats”. In a blog post the company discussed their new strategy and said: “In the same time it takes you to walk up Las Ramblas you can open up your Uber app, choose your meal and get it delivered to an address of your choice.”
A spokesman for the company added: “Uber is a technology company, and innovation is what we do, it’s in our DNA. We are always exploring different on-demand services and UberEats is one example of the innovative potential of our technology. UberEats shows how technology is creating convenience and choice but more importantly encouraging economic growth through innovation.”
As Uber is such a prominent name in the global taxi and delivery service, a number of business analysts have already commented on its decision to move towards the food delivery sector. Douglas McCabe from Enders Analysis said: “Relatively small deliveries make a lot of sense. It’s the same model as delivering a person. Not least, there is probably spare vehicle capacity during the day. But Uber’s ambitions might be beyond that: you can envisage the strategy paper that shows how they ultimately aim to replace the private car in cities and arguably public transport.
“One can list many barriers to the seamless delivery of that strategy, and there are many questions about what is more achievable in the US compared to Europe, but Uber may be able to gain considerable traction in verticals such as food deliveries.”
Even though it might not be easy for Uber to expand its business – both in terms of taxi services and food deliveries – it is unlikely that they will be dissuaded by potential roadblocks. It seems as though Uber is not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, something taxi and delivery drivers in Europe may want to watch out for.
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