GLASGOW is today to be the first Scottish city to launch controversial taxi firm Uber as the US firm eyes plans to open in a number of Scottish cities within the next twelve months.
Hundreds of taxi drivers are believed to have signed up to work for the company, which connects passengers to a background-checked driver via a smartphone app, with the firm taking a 20 per cent cut of the fare, in what it thought to be Uber’s biggest UK launch. It claims that speed in connecting drivers and passengers allows it to keep fares low.
The multi-billion-pound company last year announced it was to launch its taxi service in Edinburgh, but in August admitted that it has “struggled” to find the right staff to man the service in the capital, delaying its launch. However, the company said yesterday that it hoped to begin the service in Edinburgh within the next two months and planned to expand to other major Scottish cities including Aberdeen during 2016.
Max Lines, general manager for Uber Glasgow, said that 20,000 people in Glasgow had looked at the app ahead of Uber’s launch, while hundreds of private hire drivers were on their books.
He said: “We are super excited about this. It is the first city to launch in Scotland and is our biggest UK launch to date. I would love to launch in Edinburgh soon, but I am not exactly sure when it will be. We still need to do a bit of preparation, but if we could do it in the next two months, that would be great.”
The app is due to go live in Glasgow at 4pm today.
It is our biggest UK launch to date”MAX LINES
Mr Lines added: “There has been huge demand over the last few months in Glasgow from customers looking at the app. We have been pushing all of this week to get as many drivers to sign up as possible.”
Unlike in the US, Uber’s UK division, which is already in operation in seven British cities including London, Birmingham and Leeds, does not include UberPOP – the peer-to-peer taxi service it runs in some other countries including the US, which matches customers up with other members of the public who act as casual drivers.
Instead, UK Uber drivers have to have already passed any necessary checks.