Is the ‘Uber factor’ stifling growth in private hire sector?

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Car sharing service, Uber has become popular across the world

Uber’s app technology may have been a game-changer, but it has had a negative effect on the London private hire sector.

It has stifled growth among major minicab fleets compared to other areas of the country, according to a new research report.

Leading London operators experienced little or no growth in the past 12 months (just 0.2% overall), whereas operators in the Midlands and North, where Uber has less of a presence, saw their fleets grow on average by 11-12%.

In the areas of south-east England outside the M25, private hire fleets grew by nearly 24%.

This is one of the key findings of the iCabbi ProDriver 100, a survey of Britain’s largest private hire and taxi operators.

Gavan Walsh, iCabbi managing director, said: “Although Uber’s operational practices and compliance with the regulator and are questionable in some markets, including London, the company has done many good things, especially in its use of technology. Customers have welcomed Uber’s ease of availability, booking and payment.

“Taxi companies have started to realise that they need to use similar technology if they are to meet the customer expectations these peer-to-peer apps have set.”

Overall, the iCabbi ProDriver 100 paints a healthy picture of the Private Hire sector, with a near-10% increase in overall fleet size within the top 100 companies in the UK.

Combined, the leading 100 companies operate 56,326 cars, a rise of 4,965 on the 2016 figure of 51,361. This represents growth of 9.67% over the past 12 months.

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