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Oxford taxi drivers protest against Uber’s ‘Local Cab’ pilot scheme

Updated: Aug 28, 2021

Image credit: @IMarkPhilip (Twitter)

Taxi and private hire drivers converged at Oxford Town Hall to express their frustrations at a new pilot partnership with global ride-hailing firm Uber and local cab company 001 Oxford.

Drivers in the area were seen to be protesting against Uber's 'Local Cab' feature which allows passengers to book a trip with a local taxi company through the Uber app. Cabbies working in the area are concerned the partnership may put the livelihoods of drivers not working on the 001 Oxford platform at risk.

Earlier this month Oxford City Council's deputy leader described Uber’s ‘Local Cab’ offering as ‘murky’ when it came to defining the global ride-hailing firm as an operator or a platform provider.

The Local Cab option integrates with Autocab’s iGo network, which the firm says has the potential to connect passengers with 80,000 private hire and taxi drivers in the UK.

Operator 001 Taxis Oxford are fully licensed by Oxford City Council, however the global ride-hailing service Uber remains unregistered as a private hire operator in the region.

Cabbies held signs displaying the words ‘Say no to Uber local’ and chanted ‘No Uber’ whilst outside Oxford Town Hall.

According to the BBC, Oxford City Council Deputy Leader and Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford Cabinet Member, Tom Hayes, voiced his concerns earlier this month. He said: "The waters are murky, whether you define Uber as an operator or a platform provider.

"We have not licensed Uber in the city. We haven't done that because we wanted to support the local taxi trade, whether that's private hire or Hackney."

The councillor also told BBC sources that neither private hire firms spoke to council officials before the Local Cab launch was announced.

The Oxford pilot was the second time both Uber and Autocab have worked together since Uber reached an agreement to acquire Autocab in August 2020. In May, Uber first released the Local Cab option in Plymouth connecting passengers to the taxi firm Need-A-Cab.

At the time of the Oxford launch, Ash Kebriti, Uber’s UK General Manager, said: “Every month, we see thousands of people in towns and cities across the UK where we currently don’t operate open the Uber app and try to request a trip. Launching this pilot of Local cab in Oxford is an exciting first step in connecting these riders with local operators so that eventually the Uber app can be used anywhere in the country.”


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