SILICON VALLEY firm Uber has launched its private car hire service in Leeds, its third English city.
Uber is a technology platform that connects riders and professional private hire licensed drivers at the touch of a mobile phone button, cutting out the middlemen of taxi companies.
The company, backed by investors including Google, now operates in 200 cities around the world but its phenomenal growth has led to multiple disputes with cab firms and regulators. Taxi drivers in Leeds staged a protest last month after news emerged of Uber’s plans to launch in the city. Speaking at the time, Paul Landau, chairman of the Leeds cab section of Unite the Union claimed Uber is not operating a “legitimate service” as it is “simply an app downloaded” and questioned how passengers could complain if they had poor service.
Jo Bertram, regional general manager of Uber in the UK, told the YEP yesterday: “We believe technology should be a key driver in the changing way people move around their cities, improving the experience for both riders as well as drivers on the platform. At Uber, our mission is to keep people moving in the safest, most efficient way possible and we will continue to prioritise consumer choice and safety, as well as driver opportunity as we grow in the UK.”
The firm is offering its UberX in Leeds - a completely cashless service, enabling users to book and pay for a private hire car directly through the app.
Tom Elvidge, general manager for Uber Leeds, said: “As a Leeds native it gives me huge pride to be announcing the launch of Uber in the capital of the North. Leeds is a city embracing technology and we view it as a natural fit for launching Uber. “
He added: “The decision to expand to Leeds is a response to the incredible demand we’ve seen. In fact over 20,000 people have downloaded and opened the app in Leeds in the last 12 months.”
Leeds City Council granted Uber’s private hire operator license this week.