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Revealed: Why 485 people are urging council to seal Aberdeen Uber launch

Scores of letters of support have flooded in for the global firm as a decision on their application looms.

485 people have shown support for Uber to launch in Aberdeen.
485 people have shown support for Uber to launch in Aberdeen. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Tales of horrified international business guests, queuing chaos and concerns for women’s safety have been shared by the hundreds of Aberdeen residents pleading for Uber’s “necessary” arrival.

The global ride-hailing giant unveiled long-awaited proposals to operate here earlier this year.

It comes amid hopes that the service could solve a taxi crisis, with a driver shortage causing long queues to build up at busy times – and leaving customers frustrated.

Business leaders also claim the company could boost the struggling city centre, by bringing more people into the area.

Union Street night taxi rank
The Union Street taxi rank, which is now out of action as the road is closed for a major upgrade. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Within days, Aberdeen City Council will vote on whether to grant Uber a licence.

Ahead of the meeting, a massive dossier has been published revealing the 485 letters of support the plans have received.

Here we pick out some of the most common themes, and reveal why so many are calling for Uber’s arrival

  • One woman recalls feeling “vulnerable” in queues of aggressive drunks
  • People from Aberdeenshire say they’d be more likely to visit Aberdeen if they could order a trip on its app
  • And many argued the driver shortage had put them off attempting to get into town

Why are residents calling for Aberdeen Uber application to be approved?

One of the most regular complaints, which recurs in many of the letters, is about late-night queuing…

The predicament was branded an “absolute nightmare” by one fed up punter, who said it put them and their friends off “even bothering going out”.

Queues of people waiting for taxis on Aberdeen's Union Street in February.
Queues of people waiting for taxis on Aberdeen’s Union Street in February. Image: Lauren Taylor/DC Thomson

They recounted one occasion where chaotic scenes at city centre taxi ranks dampened an evening out.

The message of support stated: “In one such instance, I queued for a taxi on Belmont Street for close to an hour.

“Just as I got to the front of the queue, the police came by to advise that the taxi rank was now closed and we had to move to the rank on Union Street.

“Everyone behind me in the queue charged over and I was left waiting from the back of the queue again.”

Lack of taxis leave Fittie resident ‘walking through red light district’

Another letter comes from a Fittie resident, who says they rely on taxis more often since buses to the historic “village within the city” were reduced.

There is some support for the Aberdeen Uber plans from Fittie. Image: Ben Hendry.

They explain: “Now we are reduced to a shoddy four buses per day.

“Walking home at night through Aberdeen’s harbourside red light district, or along the unlit Esplanade, is not a safe choice for anyone.

“I welcome the option of a wider, more convenient taxi service.”

‘Norwegian colleagues couldn’t believe it…’

Another mentions the disbelieving reaction of foreign visitors upon learning of Aberdeen’s taxi problems.

The letter states: “Currently trying to get a taxi in the city is a nightmare.

“My office is based near the airport and our Norwegian colleagues, on visiting, couldn’t believe when we were unable to book a taxi within the hour to take us into the city centre for a dinner.

“We had to organise lifts from colleagues, and this is not uncommon.”

The taxi rank on Chapel Street, Aberdeen.
The taxi rank on Chapel Street, Aberdeen. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

Airport queues an ‘absolute joke’

Others lamented how the Aberdeen shortages have hit the city’s airport, with long waits a regular occurrence for people who have just got off a flight.

One letter said this was their “biggest bugbear”, and called the situation an “absolute joke”.

They added: “No other major city in the UK has a taxi rank where you have to wait for sometimes up to 30 mins just to get a cab.”

Taxis at Aberdeen Airport.
Taxis queue up at Aberdeen Airport… A sight some passengers might like to see more often. Image: DC Thomson.

Would Uber encourage more people to visit from Aberdeenshire?

An Inverurie resident argued that having Uber available would make them more likely to travel into the city centre from Aberdeenshire.

They said: “We would 100% travel in from Inverurie more often – the trains are
unreliable or often not late enough.

“And the queue for the taxi rank is a ridiculous wait at the weekends – puts us off venturing in.”

Uber app on phone in Aberdeen.
Some supporters say Uber will encourage more people to visit Aberdeen. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Another respondent to the council’s consultation fumed: “I use Aberdeen taxis regularly for personal and business use.

“Over the last two years it has become an inefficient private service.

“I have been late numerous times for reservations and engagements due to taxis turning up late with no apology other than ‘we are short of drivers’ with no warning.”

‘We are behind the times’

The same Uber supporter lists concerns about her safety as a woman.

She added: “On a cold dark night in the early hours, as a woman, the last thing I want is to have to stand in a queue of drunk people for longer than I have to.

“Safety is a key issue here as well. We are behind the times not having this [Uber] available in Aberdeen.”

This is a concern raised by others too…

‘I’m worried for my daughter’s safety’

Another Uber backer adds: “Standing in a taxi rank is a rather unpleasant way to end an evening.

“Often people have had too much to drink and their behaviour is unpredictable, which
can lead to abusive language and fighting.

“As a woman I have felt uncomfortable and vulnerable in this situation, and with my daughter due to turn 18 in the near future, I worry for her safety when trying to get home from an evening out.”

She also says these “difficulties” have deterred her from going into town “altogether”.

Uber app.
Uber has prepared a fresh licensing bid to operate in Aberdeen. Image: Lutsenko Oleksandr/Shutterstock

‘Sadly Uber is now a necessity’

A correspondent explained how the worsening crisis caused them to have a change of heart when it comes to Uber.

Their letter of support states: “Years ago we were against Uber, in order to support local taxi drivers.

“However there is now sadly not enough taxis. You cannot rely on taxis for a night out, which results in my family leaving the city centre early, reducing revenue.

“We have also been late to dinners and evening events when taxis have no-showed. I know many friends feel the same.”

Evening Express' 2017 coverage of Uber's previous bid to operate in Aberdeen
We covered Uber’s previous bid to operate in Aberdeen in 2017. Image: DC Thomson

What’s more, this correspondent reveals that Aberdeen’s upcoming LEZ means they can’t drive their Skoda into the centre any more.

The message concludes: “Sady, Uber is now a necessity.”

Do you think the council should approve the Uber application? Let us know in our comments section below

Business bodies add to Aberdeen Uber support

There’s also a lengthy letter of support for Uber from Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, who ran a poll indicating that 93% of Aberdonians want it to operate in the city.

And Aberdeen Inspired says the lack of taxis is a “constant issue raised” by city centre traders.

The organisation adds: “This is particularly prevalent during the late hours, where often the dearth of taxis has adversely affected the public’s confidence in spending time in our city centre.”

Tourists Arne, Leo, Emilia, and Franziska Guenther at Union Terrace Gardens.
Are tourists like Arne, Leo, Emilia, and Franziska Guenther expecting to be able to book an Uber while in Aberdeen?<br />Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

And the letter says that tourists, such as those hopping off cruise ships, would “expect to find an Uber presence in the city”.

The Aberdeen Uber application, along with letters of support and opposition, will be debated by the council on Wednesday, June 5.

Read more on why taxi drivers are calling for the scheme to be REFUSED:

‘It would be a stab in the back’: Aberdeen taxi drivers call for Uber to be refused

We exclusively revealed the “blacklisting” threats some are facing over the potential Uber launch:

Exclusive: Inside Aberdeen’s taxi ‘monopoly’ as drivers ‘threatened with blacklisting’ if they move to Uber