Uber revving up to enter Oxford

The online-based taxi firm Uber is currently filing an application for an operator’s licence with Oxford City Council after more than 50,000 people tried to access the service in Oxford despite it not having been launched here.

The mobile application allows smartphone users to request private hire cars without speaking to an operator. Since its launch in London in 2012, the multinational company has handled over 20 million rides in the city.

A spokesperson for Uber told the Oxford Mail, “The number of people who have been opening our app in Oxford is larger than average so that means there is certainly demand for our service and we are excited about that.”

Uber further told Cherwell, “Millions of people across the UK already use Uber to get a convenient, safe and aff ordable ride at the push of a button and we want to bring this option to more towns and cities.”

They noted, however, that the filing of the application “is not an indication of when [Uber] might launch.”

Colin Cook, a councillor on the Oxford City Council licensing committee, told Cherwell that Uber initially applied for a licence in March 2015.However, the requirements of the licence have not yet been met, as the company is “still looking for premises to operate out of in the city”.

Cook added, “If Uber gains an operator licence they will only be using drivers who have already been licensed by the relevant local authority.”

An operator at the local taxi firm Radio Taxis Oxford said that the company is not worried about the competition.

He told Cherwell, “We have very high standards of drivers and service which I personally don’t think an online-based company can keep up with.

“Our prices are incredibly reasonable compared to most so I think we have the upper hand on this also,” he added, pointing out that Uber’s surge pricing policy could turn away potential customers. He warns that such policies “would affect the general public a lot more than they realise, especially if local companies were to implement the same system.”