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Driver shortages and non-acceptance on ride-hail apps like Uber and Bolt frustrating travellers

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

Private hire driver shortages, and a lack of journey acceptances from drivers showing as available on ride-hailing platforms, are still leaving passengers stranded at peak times in London.

Last month, Uber’s boss in northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, told the Evening Standard that demand for trips was up by more than 10 per cent in London compared with pre-pandemic levels — and by far more at the weekends.

Uber have said that their aim is to recruit 20,000 new drivers on their platform before the start of 2023.

Late night commuter Phil Entwistle, said via social media: “Spent nearly 30min waiting on Uber and Bolt to try and get a taxi from Victoria coach station (0315am) after flying back into the UK. Nothing. No drivers wanted to accept the fare. Awful. In the end hailed the first black cab I saw and now tweeting from the back of it, 4am.”

Gary, from Bromley, said: “I’ve had that experience with Bolt as well, I’ve been standing outside Lidl and a driver accepted the fare, 5 minutes later he cancels on me. Never had an issue with Uber.”

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) suggested operators needed to pay drivers more to maintain better coverage at all times. An ADCU spokesperson said: “So sorry for this terrible experience. We can assure you if Uber & Bolt were paying drivers fairly & legally you would have no difficulty getting a driver but you might have had to pay more. You were very lucky indeed to find a black cab in that part of town at that time of night.”

Private hire union, ADCU, have been calling for the ride-hailing operator to abide by the Supreme Court ruling of February 2021 to pay drivers at least minimum wage and holiday pay from the period of log on to log off. Instead, Uber pays only for the period of dispatch to drop off which effectively means that drivers are paid nothing for about 50% of their working time at Uber. A new 5 day hearing scheduled at the Employment Tribunal in June this year is scheduled to decide working time for Uber drivers.

The ADCU have argued that Uber uses an ‘unrealistic’ low rate of 45p per mile for reimbursement of operating costs for the purpose of minimum wage calculation. Uber arbitrarily set the rate last year but has failed to adjust it upwards despite a 30% increase in vehicle and fuel costs. Uber are charging a fuel surcharge on fares in the US but has so far chosen not to in the UK despite drivers being hit by the cost of living crisis here.


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