Cardiff students will now be able to use the popular taxi app Uber, following its launch on Friday.
After warnings made by Fouzan Ali, head of Cardiff’s branch of Uber, advising customers to be “patient”, the service began to operate at 4pm.
In response to concerns over the safety of customers, Ali also confirmed that all taxi drivers working for Uber will be insured and subject to background checks. Drivers will be licensed by Cardiff council.
Talking to Wales Online, head of Uber’s expansion, Fred Jones, stated that demand for the app to reach the Welsh capital has remained high. According to Jones, feedback and petitions have previously been created, whilst 127,000 people have already opened the app looking for Cardiff services.
He said: “That’s really exciting. We had hundreds of drivers turn up and register an interest in partnering with us. We’re very excited to finally be able to launch in Cardiff.”
According to Uber, Cardiff’s launch will be approximately five times bigger than its equivalent in Birmingham. The service is currently established in 16 cities in the UK.
An Uber spokesperson also stated that the city’s large student population may benefit from the company in multiple ways. In addition to using Uber taxis for transport,it was suggested that some students may choose to register as a driver in order to generate extra income. This is thanks to flexible contracts allowing staff to work for as many hours as desired.
However, others have raised concerns that whilst Uber will provide opportunities for some, existing taxi drivers may lose business and profit. Previously, ITV reported that London hackney cab drivers have lost up to 25 per cent of business due to the app.
Ultimately though, speaking to the media local taxi firms remain optimistic and have expressed hope that demand will continue as normal.
The news follows after Cardiff hackney taxi drivers went on strike for a second weekend in a row last weekend, in response to the council’s decision to establish new regulations and fines.
During the first strike on Saturday 16th, approximately 200 taxi drivers decided to strike but for only one hour between midnight and 1am. The action took place by Cardiff Hackney Drivers’ Association in order to speak out against new Cardiff Council regulations fining drivers for refusing requests for short journeys.
According to the head of the Association Mathan Khan, drivers only refuse to take customers who are too drunk to travel. He also reported that taxi drivers have been blamed for the sexual attacks which took place during September, a claim he strongly refutes.
Khan has alleged that the new council regulations against Hackney cabs has led to an increase in verbal abuse faced by drivers.
However, in an investigation conducted during the Rugby World Cup Gair Rhydd spoke to students who had been refused travel after finishing shifts late at night in the city centre.
Khan himself was recently given a ten-day driving ban after being accused of refusing a short journey to two women, one of whom lived in the popular student area of Roath.
The council continue to urge those refused service to report the taxi’s name and registration plate to authorities.