Thursday, October 18The Voice of London

Why are students really using Uber?

With more and more young people choosing to use Uber- what is the real catch? 

Reporter: Amie Stone | Sub-editor: Toby Walker

Uber User. By Amie Stone

It was Freshers Week when my friends decided to use Uber to get home. A naïve newbie to the London scene I asked if I should give them a call? Little did I know this was the new taxi app service of choice for students. Uber is a car ride service that you order direct to your location via your mobile phone. The no reservations needed policy and competitive prices have become increasingly popular.

The Voice of London conducted a survey this week among third year University of Westminster students. The results show that 57% of students choose Uber over Black taxis as it is the cheaper alternative, while 28% agreed that the app provides a more convenient service.

Leanne Marie, a 19-year-old student said: “I have used Uber ever since I moved to London. Uber is so much cheaper and it doesn’t matter where you are – you can always get one.”

Grace Bowden. Photograph by Amie Stone

Black Taxi drivers spend between two and four years learning the knowledge, but their skills are being replaced by technological devices. Jason O’ Brien worked for the licensed London taxi firm Call Sign for 26 years. He criticizes Uber’s standards, particularly its reliance on Sat Navs. O’Brien explains: “We forget the quality we trade in to save a couple of quid. In ten years the black cab will be gone.”

Grace Bowden, a 20-year-old former student and intern believes quality is not compromised and loves Uber’s mobile system. She says: “It’s a digital age now and so many of us have smartphones so Uber is just so convenient. I don’t see why black taxi cabs couldn’t do the same thing and go digital. You have to compete now. I think if they are not willing to go digital then they don’t really have the right to be angry about it”.

Andy May. Photograph by Robyn May

This attitude has resulted in a decrease in the use of Black taxis causing them to campaign and strike against Uber. Andy May has been a licensed London taxi driver for nearly 13 years. He faces the difficult challenges Uber has created. He says: “Earnings have been affected due to a huge influx of Uber drivers and cars. The increase in mini cabs also brings extra traffic and congestion, which puts people off black cabs. Who wants to sit in traffic for ages watching a meter ticker over?”

Leanne Marie adds: “Most black cabbies are freelance, so I do feel bad using Uber because I know it could potentially put someone out of a job however, I am a student and if Uber is cheaper, I am obviously going to use it”.

May believes the future for black cabs look bleak. He adds: “The younger generation just want cheap [rides] and I don’t blame them. But, when we are gone, do you think Uber will still be cheap? Once they become a monopoly their fairs will go up- no question.”

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