Empty Ubers adding to UK’s congestion problems

New data has been released showing that Uber drivers are carrying fare paying passengers for less than half the time that they are in operation.

As a result, concerns are now being raised that Uber drivers are adding to both pollution and congestion across the UK.

The data shows that drivers in Glasgow, Nottingham and London spent over 35% of their shift empty, circumnavigating various areas looking for work.

Other data shows that Uber drivers spend 23% of their working period driving to a pick-up, with a passenger only being on board for a mere 42% of the time, leaving the vehicle empty for 58% of a driver’s shift.

Former Uber driver, James Farrar, managed to obtain the data after a two-year legal battle. He stated that the figures provide conclusive evidence that the ride-hailing app company's approach contributes to congestion in the UK. 

When Uber was launched in the UK it was claimed that its smart technology would reduce traffic, with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick addressing the Institute of Directors in 2014 and claiming that the model used in London takes 7.5 cars off the road for every Uber vehicle utilised.

However, James Farrar has stated that because Uber drivers are competing on both immediacy and availability, and do not carry any of the costs of buying the vehicles, an oversupply emerges and therefore causes congestion because drivers do not have enough work.

Data gathered after tracking three drivers for a combined total of 7,500 hours showed that the drivers do not park their vehicles waiting for a job to "ping" on the app, instead they typically spend 94% of their shift cruising the streets, trying to maximise their chance of a job being offered.

It was reported in The Sunday Times that one of the drivers used in the statistical analysis was working 80 hours per week to recoup the cost of the vehicle.

58 year old David Dunn had spent £37,000 on his car but would have to accept fares as low as £3. After Uber had taken their fee that figure would reduce to £2.25. He has since quit driving for Uber.

April saw Glasgow become the first city in the UK to actively restrict the number of private hire vehicles in the region, however councils and authorities in England have, as yet, been given no such power by Government despite repeated requests from London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, among others. 

Image Source: Flickr

Image Author: Elliott Brown 

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