Uber’s application for a licence to operate in Oxford has been rejected after more than a year of resistance from local taxi firms.
Oxford City Council have emphasised that they did not ban the company, but Uber instead failed to submit necessary application details in time. Uber have, however, promised to try to launch in Oxford again in the future. A reported 50,000 people attempted to access the app from Oxford in 2015, suggesting there is demand for the service.
The rejection was welcomed by local cabbies. In 6 years, Uber has spread across 73 countries and to over 450 cities. In response to the challenge from such a large rival, earlier this year 001 Taxis and Royal Cars launched their own apps providing a service almost identical to that of Uber.
“It would have been devastating for our trade and they would have wrecked the current system.”
The managing director of Royal Cars, Niaz Mohammed was thrilled at the news: “We were very concerned about the safety of Uber and whether its drivers would abide by Oxford City Council’s regulations.” He went on to suggest that Uber aimed to monopolise Oxford’s taxi services and would leave little room for local companies.
Secretary of the City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association’s, Sajad Khan, echoed Mr Mohammed’s sentiments: “It would have been devastating for our trade and they would have wrecked the current system.” He also raised questions of safety and added that Uber had “awkward fares”.
A journey from Oxford Station to Abingdon at the time of writing costs £15 in a 001 cab, when booked in advance. If the app’s London base fare of £2.50 and £1.25 per mile are taken into account, the same journey with Uber would come to around £14 –or £1 cheaper than 001. Those supporting Uber have suggested that more competition among taxi providers in Oxford might mean better rates for the consumer.
Other UK cities have seen similar efforts to block Uber’s expansion. In London, Black Cab Drivers continue to oppose Uber and a protest in February brought traffic to a standstill. Whilst the full extent of Uber’s potential impact in Oxford remains unclear, local taxi companies remain determined to prevent the company from entering Oxford.