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LATEST UBER EXPANSION: What’s driving the latest UK expansion?


Image credit: DALL.E (AI generated)

Uber is on its latest expansion drive in the UK, buoyed by a significant uptick in demand for services and the nod from various licensing bodies.


The ride-hailing giant recently received approval from Hull City Council, a move that permits the deployment of approximately 250 drivers and vehicles in the region. This development is part of Uber's strategic growth plan, which includes securing operating licences in Swansea, Stockton on Tees, and plans to break new ground in Aberdeen.

The company's expansion is indicative of its robust growth trajectory in the UK, with driver numbers surging by over 70% since 2021, surpassing the 100,000 mark. According to an Uber spokesperson who spoke to TaxiPoint, Uber believe the Hull licence is set to enhance earning opportunities for drivers and broaden transportation options for passengers, thereby contributing positively to the local economy.


Councillor Mark Bisbey, chair of Hull City Council's Licensing Committee, also highlighted the need for more cabs in the area as a factor for handing Uber its new operator’s licence. He pinpointed the acute need for more taxi services in Hull, a city where the demand consistently outstrips supply, reflecting the council's dedication to addressing this gap.


However, the expansion has not been without its detractors, particularly in cities like Hull and Stockton on Tees, where the discontinuation of Uber's 'Local Cab' service in December 2023 left a void in ride-hailing service availability. This service previously allowed users to book rides with local private hire operators via Uber's app.


WHAT IS THE THINKING BEHIND THIS LATEST EXPANSION?


Uber's recent licensing victories mark a strategic shift, especially after ending its partnership with Autocab's iGo network last year. The company's expansion strategy appears to target areas with a declining number of taxi drivers or where local authorities have raised concerns about taxi shortages.


There has been debate sparked from some within the industry about whether Uber is leveraging demand insights from the now-defunct 'Local Cab' service to inform its expansion strategy. However, given the recent launches include areas outside of previous ‘Local Cab’ operation, it would seem the expansion program has a more broader thinking.


Furthermore, the impending election and potential changes to cross-border working rules, as hinted by senior Labour figures, add another layer of strategic planning for Uber. The company's proactive expansion could safeguard uninterrupted service coverage across the UK, should these regulatory changes come into effect.

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