Uber’s bid to take over the world is going well. In the UK, the multi-billion dollar US ride-sharing app is now well-established in five cities: London, Manchester, Leeds, Wakefield, and Birmingham. In total, Uber is in more than 200 cities across 56 countries.
So where is Uber is going next?
Although nothing has been firmed up, there are signs that Uber has its sights set on Newcastle, Bristol, and Portsmouth, based on various reports from local media.
“Uber’s plan is to be in every major city in the UK and we have a number of options of where we want to be,” an Uber spokesman told Chronicle Live, Newscastle’s newspaper online.
Here are three UK cities where we think Uber might launch next:
Newcastle would be Uber’s most northern venture yet. The farthest it’s planted roots so far is Leeds. Chronicle Live describes the “American service” as “controversial” in its report, but explains that it’s looking very likely Uber will soon launch there.
Newcastle City Council confirmed that it has issued a licence for Uber to make the city its next location. A spokesperson for the authority told the paper:
We have recently issued a private hire operators licence to Uber Britannia Ltd which uses a smart phone application to connect passengers and drivers. They have operated in London and Manchester for some time now and offer a new type of service to passengers. We are reassured by their intention to use only Newcastle vetted and licensed drivers and vehicles. This is a relatively new type of service and we will continue to monitor it very closely to see how it works.
Although a licence has been issued, Uber doesn’t have a set date for a launch. The company said that once it has drivers on board and its cars are fully vetted by the council it will “be in a position to launch.” Uber added that it hopes “that’s not too far away for Newcastle.”
Every city speculates how Uber’s arrival will impact local businesses. In Newcastle, the National Taxi Associations North East director, Chris Chandler, told Chronicle Live he’d be “interested to see whether passengers would use the service.”
Chandler makes the point that Newcastle isn’t as big as Manchester or Birmingham and questioned whether it “will survive in the economic climate of the North East.”
The Bristol Post reports that Uber “has its sights on the city.” Bristol would mark the company’s move to the South West of England and would also be the smallest location so far by geographic size. Uber previously focused on big cities.
The firm has submitted a licence application to Bristol City Council, the Bristol Post says, and a spokesperson for Uber has also spoken to the paper: “We are always exploring our options in the UK. The technological revolution is already happening and a city like Bristol should not be left behind.”
It’s not yet confirmed whether the authorities will grant Uber a licence to operate in Bristol, and Uber would need to find and check drivers there too before launching. But there’s a clear intention, which has driven a reaction from locals.
Tim Lloyd was the chairman of the local branch of the National Taxi Association. He remarked: “Taxi drivers have a bad opinion of Uber because of safety. In terms of business, I don’t really know what it would mean for us, but it’s more competition. Uber would come in and undercut both us and private hire firms. It’s a concern for drivers in Bristol.”
Uber’s intention to roll out in the shipping town has come from Jo Bertram, head of the company’s European arm, The News writes.
Portsmouth would be Uber dipping its toes in the seas of the South Coast. In population terms, it would be the smallest place to pitch up yet. Bristol has a population of more than 400,000, while Portsmouth is around half that.
Bertram told The News: “We have had huge successes in our other cities and we hope to expand into Portsmouth. We believe it can bring real value to the city and we are excited to apply to Portsmouth.”
Uber has applied formally to set up as a private hire firm in the town and has submitted documents to Portsmouth City Council. There’s no date for a decision there, but council leader Donna Jones has told residents that it will be looking into the application thoroughly.
Portsmouth appears to be the furthest away from actually happening out of the three. Still, a local cab driver has already spoken out:”The proof of the pudding will be in the eating,” he told The News.
An Uber spokesman said he can’t give specific dates on any expansion plans when asked about the cities.