Uber still has no news on when it is likely to launch in Brighton, four months after its year-long licence was granted last year.
The controversial taxi hailing app’s bid for a taxi operating licence was approved in October last year after months of representations from existing taxi operators on one side, and digital champions on the other.
Brighton taxi companies such as Streamline and City Cabs argued that Uber had a track record of flouting local regulations, and that allowing it to operate as it does elsewhere, without providing wheelchair accessible cabs, would be unfair on local companies who have to abide by stricter rules.
But web natives such as former council leader Jason Kitcat say that to reject Uber would be regressive, and we should be embracing its innovative approach.
After a day of representations from taxi companies and Uber, Brightno and Hove City Council’s licencing committee agreed to give it a one-year licence, which expires on November 4 this year.
But with the meter running, there’s still no sign of an imminent launch. A spokeswoman for the company said: “We look forward to being able to offer a safe, reliable and affordable choice for people in Brighton and Hove but we do not yet have a date for launch.
“Already thousands of people in the area have downloaded and opened the app and we’re really excited about the potential.”
One issue might be that the company is struggling to find enough drivers. The president of the Brighton and Hove taxi branch of GMB Jon Smith said that none of his members had signed up.
But he said he was confident Uber would launch in Brighton one day. He said: “They’re claiming that thousands of people are waiting to use their service. But the problem is that they don’t supply cars, the driver has to provide his own car and insurance – they provide nothing, they just take a cut.
“I think the delay is because they have got so much other hassle going on around the world – but they will end up here, probably using London drivers.
“No GMB members have signed up in Brighton – but in London, Uber drivers have joined us because there’s so many drivers, there’s not enough fares to go around, and Uber have increased their cut.”