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“THE WATERS ARE MURKY”: Oxford City Councillor reveals concerns over Uber’s ‘Local Cab’ offering

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

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

In mid-June Uber announced the latest pilot of its new product, Local Cab, in Oxford.

Anyone opening the Uber app in Oxford will be able to select the Local Cab option which connects passengers to the taxi firm 001 Taxis Oxford. 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.

According to news sources, the local licensing authority has "concerns" and its legal representatives are reviewing the arrangement.

According to the BBC, Oxford City Council Deputy Leader and Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford Cabinet Member, Tom Hayes, 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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