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Taxi drivers react to news Uber has shelved plans to come to Aberdeen

Uber has axed plans to move to Aberdeen.
Uber has axed plans to move to Aberdeen.

Uber has axed plans to come to Aberdeen almost two years after it was granted an operating licence.

The cashless car hire firm was awarded its office booking licence in 2017 – required to let it run a service in the Granite City.

However the company has now U-turned on its commitment and has said it has no plans to come to the north-east.

The city council has confirmed the American organisation has handed its licence back.

Uber has declined to elaborate on the reasons for its decision but a north-east tourism expert has speculated that the changing local economy could have been the death knell for the move.

Andrew Martin, tourism lecturer at Aberdeen University, said: “I know that taxi drivers have been having a really difficult time since 2015.

“Trading has been difficult. There have been less people coming through the airport and less wanting to use hotels and accommodation in the city.

“You only have to take a look around Union Street on a Friday and Saturday night to see how quiet it is.

“I would reckon that the business case for Uber just wasn’t as strong as it might once have been.”

The controversial service is already operating in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but the Aberdeen branch would have been the furthest north the multinational firm has ventured in the UK.

Under the cashless service, patrons pay through a smartphone app and are given information on their driver, including the make of car, before pick-up.

It is understood that if the Silicon Valley company had recruited drivers in Aberdeen they would have had to undergo the same training and tests as ordinary taxi drivers, which has not been the case in other cities.

There was mixed reaction to the news Uber had pulled out among traditional taxi drivers.

Derek Davidson, who is self-employed, has been a cab driver in the city for 20 years.

He said: “I’m probably in the minority but I don’t think Uber are as bad as others make out.

“The big taxi firms take a radio fee if you work for them, no matter how many jobs you do. At least Uber only takes a cut of the trips you actually make.”

But Alex McIntosh, who has been a driver for 10 years, said he was pleased at the news.

“I think it’s a good thing they’re not coming,” he said.

“But as far as I could gather they would have had to go through the same licensing process as other drivers, which would take away their end of the market.”

The city council confirmed Uber had “surrendered the booking office licence that was granted in 2017”.

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