York has become the third city in the UK to refuse Uber’s licence renewal, as the company faces multiple roadblocks and controversies. But while taxi and private hire firms have welcomed the news, the fight continues against ride-hailing apps.
The decision in York came just days after the preliminary hearing of Uber’s appeal against Transport for London, which decided to not renew the app’s licence in September.
The Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee announced that Uber’s licence in York would not be renewed on 12th December, after complaints that Uber drivers from outside the city were taking away work from York taxi firms. It’s said that Uber’s cover-up of a major data breach, affecting 57 million customers, also contributed to the decision.
Sheffield City Council refused Uber’s licence renewal earlier in December, saying that the company had not satisfactorily answered questions about its management. An Uber spokesperson blamed an “administrative error”, but the global tech giant will have to formally appeal the decision if it wishes to continue operating in Sheffield.
Other local councils are taking note. Brighton and Hove Council made the decision to renew Uber’s licence for just six months in November, allowing it to “monitor the outcome” of TfL’s ban and consider the app’s future in the seaside city.
Licence refusals in London, Sheffield and York are just the tip of the iceberg for the ride-hailing app. In the last year, the company has suffered a series of PR disasters, including board member resignations and revelations that the company paid a hacker $100,000 to delete stolen data.
But while Uber has suffered plenty of knock-backs, this isn’t the end of the road for the cash-rich start-up. Plans for driverless Uber cars are moving forward apace, with Volvo striking a deal for Uber to buy 24,000 autonomous SUVs – and with Uber investment rounds looming, taxi and private hire firms in the UK are still on the alert.
Here are five ways you can be proactive in the fight against Uber:
1. Make sure you’re compliant with your local council
Uber has run afoul of UK licensing bodies – and for good reason. Make sure you don’t do the same. Working with your local council, and not against them, is the best way to ensure you’re still standing when Uber is knocked back.
Be vigilant and ensure all your drivers are properly licensed. This includes any criminal records checks and medical examinations, as your local council requires. Remember to keep tabs on when licences are up for renewal too, as well as any new mandatory training introduced by your local authority.
2. Speak to your local licensing authority
Ever since TfL announced its decision not to renew Uber’s licence, a precedent has been set. More local authorities are standing up to the international tech giant and showing that billions of dollars in investment doesn’t mean you can get away with breaking the rules.
No doubt your local licensing authority will have heard about TfL’s decision and will be watching Uber’s appeal with interest. Now’s the time to talk to them and highlight the problems that Uber are causing, or could cause, in your city.
3. Launch your own app
There’s no doubt that a big part of Uber’s success is the convenience of being able to book a ride straight from your smartphone.
In Autocab’s recent Passenger Survey, over 60 percent of respondents said they’d rather book using an app or online than call a taxi firm directly. Giving your customers a way to book rides quickly and easily, right at their fingertips, helps you compete with ride-hailing apps. It’s also a win for your business – you can automate more bookings, meaning lower staff overheads.
4. Consider a soft merge
A soft merge with another taxi or private hire firm gives you all the benefits of job-sharing, without the commitment of a formal merger, acquisition or partnership. It means you can fill quiet periods and avoid disappointing customers when your drivers are busy.
Across the UK, local taxi and private hire firms are joining forces through soft merges to combat Uber and larger local fleets. Find out how three Merseyside companies came together as the One Call Group to help their businesses grow.
5. Join the iGo network
iGo helps you compete with ride-hailing apps, transforming your business from a local taxi firm to a national booking platform. You can expand your network and earn a commission for sharing out-of-area jobs through iGo.
Best of all, being a part of iGo means your passengers can still use your app, even when they’re away from home. No switching to Uber – they’ll be using your app to book journeys all over the country, staying loyal to your business.
Find out more about how iGo can help your business grow.
If you want to find out more about protecting your business against global ride-hailing apps, check out our free ebook on how to combat Uber.