Uber has applied for a licence to operate in Brighton and Hove.
Uber is a taxi company that originated in San Francisco and has spread worldwide. With a downloadable app that uses GPS technology to locate available vehicles, riders can connect to private drivers nearby. With a few mere taps on their phone, users can hail a cab and get given a fixed price to pay before they’ve even stepped into the car.
The service has recently become controversial in the major cities it already operates in, with concerns over wheelchair accessibility, the security of customer data and how Uber’s drivers are checked. As the drivers are independent contractors, there is a growing worry about the greater risk to user’s safety. Countries such as Spain and Thailand have even banned Uber from operating there anymore.
Brighton council members are also concerned that the introduction of Uber will put local taxi ranks out of business. Since Uber started operating in the UK in 2012, it has grown quickly in popularity and caused a strong rivalry between them and traditional taxi drivers.
Despite concerns, many local people are arguing that as an entrepreneurial major city, Brighton could benefit from the economic boost Uber is likely to bring. Darren Fell, founder of Hove-based Crunch Accounting, which works for micro-businesses including Uber drivers, said the city had to embrace change.
Brighton and Hove councillors will discuss whether to grant a licence to Uber on Monday.