By: Pramod Thomas
Uber increased its rates by 10 per cent in London on Thursday (11) to win drivers back onto its platform, The Guardian reported.
The ride-hailing app said that the increase will provide a better rider experience after lockdown led to driver departures.
Uber said the rise (11) was the first in its base rates since 2017. It might help avoid the fluctuations caused by frequent surge pricing if more drivers could be attracted back, it added.
A 15 per cent surcharge would also apply at peak times for rides to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, meaning some prices would increase by up to 25 per cent, the report said.
Customers are now facing longer waits and more cancellations as well as more surge pricing as requests exceed the number of cars available.
Many Uber and minicab drivers quit the sector during the Covid pandemic when lockdown rules caused jobs to dry up.
Public demand for taxis has grown in recent months, with social distancing eased and ever more people returning to nightlife, while some public transport networks have been cut, the newspaper report added.
Uber’s overall number of registered drivers had not fallen significantly, the company said, but many had opted for other work such as delivery or signed on with other platforms instead of staying full-time on the app.
Calls for taxis have risen in the UK by almost 20 per cent, and Uber would need about 20,000 more drivers to return to usual service levels, The Guardian report added.
Demand had increased even more in some cities outside London, Uber said, including by 24 per cent in Birmingham and 40 per cent in Nottingham; demand in the capital was up by 20 per cent.
The firm has recently begun classing drivers as workers after a long court battle, adding contributions to pensions and pay in lieu of holiday. It said drivers could earn £20-£30 an hour on average.
“We’re making these changes to help provide a better rider experience by signing up more drivers to meet the growing demand. We know people rely on Uber to book a safe trip around London and this small fare increase will help reduce wait times. As always, riders will get a fare estimate before booking their journey,” an Uber spokesperson told The Guardian.
Uber’s rival Bolt said it had also experienced a surge in demand, with searches up 300 per cent in some cities over the past six months.