Addison Lee’s Catherine Faiers just can’t stop talking about Uber. Twice in recent weeks, she’s written in these very pages to highlight our popularity. It’s flattering to get confirmation from others that what you do is in such demand, although we try to focus on our own business.
We already know the public likes what we offer: we’ve been criticised for being too cheap and too expensive – sometimes in the same breath – yet more than twice as many Londoners are choosing Uber now than a year ago. Why? Because we offer a fast, straightforward, safe service that’s good value for money.
Dynamic pricing isn’t new – airlines have been doing something similar for years. Even trains and taxis have higher peak-time prices, but this is pre-determined and fixed regardless of demand. On the Uber platform, when demand significantly exceeds the number of available drivers, the price automatically goes up to encourage more partners – who benefit most – to use the Uber platform.
We make higher prices extremely clear to riders, with confirmation screens before you book. While it may be more expensive than usual, it often remains comparable with the cost of other ways to get around London by car.
And it works. Twice as many partner-drivers were online on the morning of the last tube strike compared to normal. People who don’t really need to travel will likely wait a short while until prices have dropped; there’s even a button to notify you as soon as that happens. No one has to travel when higher pricing is in effect but it does give you the choice.
It’s not just the public who like using Uber. So do professional drivers. A large number have even left the employment of private-equity-owned Addison Lee this year to become their own boss, using the Uber app to drive when they want and earn more in a much more flexible way. Our partner-drivers must pass the same checks and meet the same criteria as any other private hire driver; and they do all that under the added scrutiny we receive from all sides just because we are Uber. We have already been found compliant by over 25 different regulators across the UK.
Most of our growth is driven by personal recommendations and repeat custom – by both riders and drivers. Once Londoners use Uber, we usually become their favourite way to get around. And we couldn’t meet such fast-growing demand unless we could attract and retain good drivers who want to partner with us, and in turn refer others. Considerably more than half the partners using the platform were referred by a friend.
Uber is more affordable for one key reason – efficiency. Our system connects drivers to another nearby booking within minutes of dropping off their previous passenger. There are fewer empty journeys so, even if the fare per trip is lower, partner-drivers do more trips in an hour and actually take home more.
With another potential tube strike looming, some may have already booked a pick-up for a certain time. But if, like many of us, you have a change of plan, need a ride at short notice or find everyone else is fully booked, Uber can get you on your way within a few minutes.
New competition encourages established businesses to improve. The ones that do this successfully thrive, while those that don’t stall. We look forward to others responding by raising the bar on areas like quality, innovation, and the support they provide, rather than arguing against new competition. We are now investing to introduce our service to more cities around the UK. The real winners are the drivers and the public.