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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2024 6:26 pm 
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Quite surprised at this, and some quite interesting stuff, hence maybe a new thread :-o

Surprised because presumably this would be Uber's only new UK location for quite a few years now?? And there's also mention of expansion into Dundee and North Lanarkshire here (the latter effectively part of the Greater Glasgow conurbation).

So maybe Uber's abandonment of the Local Cab project means they're back to a more direct expansion model rather than piggy-backing off local firms? So rather than abandoning UK expansion altogether, they're back to what they were doing almost a decade ago? :-o

So maybe the Local Cab stuff didn't really work how they intended, or maybe the post-lockdown environment has heralded a change in strategy anyway: more probably a combination of both.

But quite a lot of PR and bull$hitting below. Words like 'machinations' spring to mind.

And unusual for people who have nothing to do with the trade playing such a role as described below. Although, part of the machinations is having to read between the lines to work out who is actually responsible for what, and whether the parties quoted are just spinning things, or whatever. For example, we're told: "Sources inside the taxi trade indicated they had no issue with Uber coming to Aberdeen this time around."

Aye, right :roll:

Then one major player (Rainbow Taxis) is saying totally the opposite, which sounds more realistic.


Exclusive: Uber confirms new plans to bring ride-hailing service to Aberdeen

Uber turned down to chance to trade in Aberdeen after securing a licence in 2017. Now the ride-hailing service has reset its sights on the Granite City.

Uber is preparing a bid to launch in Aberdeen, nearly five years after shelving plans to come.

The ride-hailing service has been tempted back to the Granite City as local leaders look to end snaking queues at taxi ranks.

Shortages of taxis have been commonplace at night and weekends for years, as Covid lockdowns forced many drivers into retirement or to seek work elsewhere.

It has been argued that this has held back the struggling city centre as it battles to survive. Long queues have been reported at the airport too.

Earlier this week, Aberdeen Inspired was revealed to be in talks with a “global taxi operator”, along with the council.

Roule Wood, a project manager working with the business improvement district, said talks were at “early stages”.

She stopped short of naming Uber in her LinkedIn post.

But a spokesman for the worldwide transport firm, which has ventured as far north as Edinburgh and Glasgow in the UK, has now confirmed their intention to apply for a licence in Aberdeen.

“It is correct that talks are ongoing,” he told The Press and Journal.

Uber’s spokesman declined to add more while his company negotiates the formal licensing process, which has previously proven precarious in Aberdeen.

Uber’s last ride into Aberdeen

In June 2019, the giant surrendered its booking office licence blaming its landlord selling the premises.

When plans for an Aberdeen arrival first emerged, we reported Uber wanted to launch as soon as possible.

City officials rubber-stamped Uber’s licence as no objections were raised in time.

But the BBC reported on a “farcical” process to garner opinion as the only public notice was displayed at ankle-height at Uber’s registered Aberdeen office in Berry Street.

This time around, Ms Wood said Uber’s business model – running in hundreds of cities across the world – was “impressive”.

She wrote: “It’s early stages. I hope the city will get behind the reform we need to increase our driver pool – in quick time.”

Uber currently only operates its food delivery service in the Granite City.

Would Aberdeen’s taxi trade still resist Uber?

Sources inside the taxi trade indicated they had no issue with Uber coming to Aberdeen this time around.

But that would be on the basis the ride-hailing app’s drivers have to go through the same labour of a street knowledge test that they do.

Despite being long beyond the advent of sat nav, Aberdeen licensing chiefs stopped short of scrapping the demanding exam.

Even pre-booked, private hire drivers must pass before being allowed on the roads.

In her online post, Ms Wood described the rules as “mind-boggling and outdated”.

But taxi chiefs – who also want change – have previously told The P&J that scrapping the test altogether risks “eroding” one of the UK’s “most knowledgeable taxi trades”.

Bosses met this week to discuss the reemergence of Uber’s interest in the Aberdeen market.

They are meeting again later in the week and are reluctant to say much before for fear of “inflaming the situation”.

Aberdeen Inspired: ‘Our levy payers are concerned’

An Aberdeen Inspired spokesman said: “For some time now, our levy payers have voiced consistent concerns regarding taxi provision, clearly echoed by wider public sentiment.

“It is obvious taxi provision is something that needs to change as part of the drive to help the city’s economic recovery – in terms of safety, vibrancy and the city’s reputation – and our levy payers asked us to explore this.

“In our talks with the taxi trade they agree and have stated they want to work towards viable solutions.

“That reflects on the trade’s hard work and dedication to passengers and the city, which is never in any doubt.

“We have talked to our levy payers, we have talked to the taxi operators, and now we and Our Union Street will be working in partnership with concerned parties to find a way forward.”

Rainbow City Taxi boss: Uber talks are ‘almost immoral’ without trade reps

But Russell McLeod, managing director of Rainbow City Taxis, hinted at unrest at talks being held on how to fix the taxi shortage – without trade representation.

“They are talking about our industry without talking to us. That’s almost immoral,” he told us.

“At the moment, I think the taxi trade feels quite strongly that the inference that we are the cause of issues in the night-time economy is totally unjustifiable.

“Roule Wood says on LinkedIn that she was ‘sanctioned’ to ‘reform’ the taxi trade in Aberdeen – without speaking to us.

“‘Sanctioned’ by who? I had to ask council officers for her contact details and we didn’t meet until December.

“We also met Bob Keiller in December. There are all these issues and we still had to contact Aberdeen Inspired and Our Union Street ourselves.

“Maybe some in the city centre need to look closer to home for reasons why it’s struggling.”

Taxi driver U-turn could be on the cards over Aberdeen Uber

However, even the slightest steer that the taxi trade would not outright oppose Uber’s arrival in Aberdeen is a significant change of gear from drivers.

The P&J reported that Com Cabs driver Jason Sutherland was “absolutely gobsmacked” when Uber was granted a licence in 2017.

The difference between then and now could be in what he told The P&J next: “The city has more than enough taxis.”

‘Uber approached us,’ Granite Mile boss claims

Our Union Street leader Bob Keiller said it was not fair to suggest city bosses had “enticed” Uber to look at Aberdeen.

“Uber is looking at a national expansion, already trading in 59 UK towns and cities including Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“They looking at Aberdeen, Dundee and maybe North Lanarkshire.

“They approached Aberdeen, they are coming to us through Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Inspired.

“But that’s not to say we would not welcome Uber.

“We would welcome anything to increase the supply of taxis in Aberdeen, whether that’s improvements by local firms or from outside operators such as Uber.”

Taxi firms part of conversation on Aberdeen’s supply of driver

Since his meeting with taxi firms, Our Union Street has drawn up a list of ideas to improve the taxi supply.

Among them are suggestions brought to that meeting by the trade. Discussion is yet to come on which should be taken forward.

“We acknowledge we are not experts in the taxi trade,” Mr Keiller added.

“We hope we can help the trade to be more successful but also welcome more entrants into the market. And we want a good working relationship.

“The street knowledge test is part of the discussion. It appears more complicated than other cities and also needs brought up to date.”


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2024 6:27 pm 
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But it's still not clear how Uber would get round features unique to Scotland/Aberdeen that wouldn't fit their existing 'gig economy' model, namely:

- the same stiff knowledge test for both HC and PH drivers

- no cross-border working except on individual jobs

- PH cars with taximeters fitted, which must be calibrated to the council tariff. Which wouldn't preclude discounting, but wouldn't accommodate surge pricing :-o


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2024 6:33 pm 
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Just noticed the journalist who authored the piece above is called Alastair Gossip :lol:

Kind of appropriate for stuff like this, when you have to read between the lines a bit to get at the truth, or at least try to work it all out. But which, of course, is no reflection on the journalist per se :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2024 7:58 pm 
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Did you deliberately double-post that, or is it down to your age? 8-[

Operators (as in firms) should really be worried, drivers should be jumping for joy.

The beauty (in my view) of the Scottish trade is that cross border is not allowed, therefore only drivers licensed in that area can generally work in that area.

Can see a lot of hackneys becoming PH, and loads of second-hand meters becoming available.

At night drivers on Uber will earn significant money via the surge, which won't necessarily solve the night shortage issue, but will make those drivers who do work those times financially a lot better off.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2024 9:10 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
Did you deliberately double-post that, or is it down to your age? 8-[

Haha, it's just under four hours until I'm 60, so until that time I'll just use the cock-up excuse rather than blaming my age :-o

(I normally compose all my bits and pieces in the same post window, then copy it to the clipboard in case it disappears, then paste it into several different posts, as necessary - but I obviously forgot to get rid of the repeated first post in the second one above, if you get my drift, but now rectified :? )

But the second post was just to add my tuppenceworth about Uber's possible difficulties with regard to the cross-border thing, plus the fact the Knowledge applies equally to HCDs and PHDs, and the fact that PHVs have meters fitted and they can only be set to the council tariff rates :-o

But I'm not sure if PHVs are actually required to have meters fitted - if they are, then the surge pricing thing wouldn't work. On the other hand, if any firm can utilise lawyers and lobbyists to get round the meter thing, then it's Uber (presumably that's what they do in Edinburgh, where I think the PHVs generally have meters fitted - Glasgow uses the more traditional model of PHVs without meters, thus consistent with Uber's model).

But to that extent Aberdeen will be a tougher nut for Uber to crack than places where they can get by topo tests etc with the cross-border thing, and ensure a steady supply of 'gig economy' drivers. So unless the council dumps the PH knowledge test then I'm not quite so sure about your thesis regarding so many drivers dumping their meters to go with Uber, even assuming they were allowed to under the current rules.

And no doubt they'd be quids in with surge pricing for a few hours per week, but maybe not the rest of the time.

But maybe Uber and the elites of Aberdeen business know something we don't :?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2024 10:27 pm 
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But I'm not sure if PHVs are actually required to have meters fitted - if they are, then the surge pricing thing wouldn't work.

Not as familiar with Scottish PH law as I am with the English version, but I understand that if PH vehicles have meters they must be set at the same rate as taxis. But is there a requirement to always use them if they are fitted?

If not then surely PH drivers can surge to their heart's content? Even if they have meters fitted.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2024 3:10 am 
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Sussex, PHDs can't charge more than the council-set HC rates, and that's stated as a specific offence :-o

Which in fact points to something slightly odd that I'd forgotten about over the years. Can't be bothered looking into it in detail, but as I recall it there's nothing in the legislation to say that a PHV fitted with a meter has to have it calibrated (using the term loosely :roll: ) to the HC fares.

But one section in the offences part of the legislation simply says that a PHD can't charge more than the council-set rates if the car is fitted with a taximeter, therefore...

Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, section 21(5) wrote:
If any person demands fares or other charges in respect of the hire of a taxi or for the hire of a private hire car which is fitted with a taximeter in excess of the scales established under sections 17 and 18 of this Act, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding [F1level 4 on the standard scale].

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/45/section/21

So it's a slightly roundabout way of imposing it, but in essence - and how it seems to be applied - is that if a PHV is fitted with a meter than effectively the fare regime is the same as that for HCs.

Thing I'm not too sure about, though, is whether PHVs can be required to fit meters by licensing councils, thus in effect be required to accept the taxi fare regime.

To me it makes sense, because in the likes of Dundee and St Andrews, many PHVs are just doing the same work from the same offices as the HCs, thus it makes sense to have a uniform fare structure.

But whether councils can actually mandate meters in PHVs I'm not so sure about, nor whether if they are mandated that would withstand a legal challenge :-o

Which obviously Uber might not be particularly shy about undertaking, and of course it has the resources to do so.

Of course, if Uber in Aberdeen was to be only PHVs then they would argue that it makes sense for them not to have meters fitted, and that they should be allowed to set fares according to market forces. Which in turn would obviously have pros and cons as far as both drivers and passengers are concerned.

We'll see :?

(Strictly speaking it's a PHC rather than PHV in the Scottish legislation, but other than the slightly different terminology, they're just the same north and south of the border. And 'HC' isn't really used up here so much, and isn't mentioned in the leglislation. But I just use it for clarity.)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2024 7:26 pm 
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Thing I'm not too sure about, though, is whether PHVs can be required to fit meters by licensing councils, thus in effect be required to accept the taxi fare regime.

Be very surprised if Scottish PHVs are mandated to have meters, just they must be the same as taxis if they are.

I suspect in Aberdeen loads of PHVs will be unfitting them, and using the Uber app. It does seem incredibly daft that those with meters can't use them, and it will cause problems for Uber, or more to-the-point drivers on Uber.

Basically drivers won't be able to work on a firm that uses meters, as well as Uber.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2024 3:00 am 
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Sussex wrote:
Be very surprised if Scottish PHVs are mandated to have meters, just they must be the same as taxis if they are.

Well it's certainly not an across the board thing, nor stated directly in the legislation. But I think that maybe councils where mixed fleets operate might say that if HCs and PHVs are working alongside each other the latter have to have meters.

So to that extent it might not survive a legal challenge.

(It's one of those things I've always intended looking into, but what's the point? Mention it in a consultation and you'll be ignored. If you ask the Scottish Government what their view of the law is then they'll probably just say they don't provide legal advice to members of the public, and in effect tell you to hire a lawyer. Er, until I win the lottery...)

When I started driving in St Andrews, the office was mostly HC, but about a quarter of the cars were PHVs. One driver told me he preferred driving PH because he could charge a bit more, assuming he could get away with it. Which is probably why the council later told the firm to fit meters in its PHVs. But, again, whether that's within the legislation and whether it would survive a legal challenge, I don't know. But the local trade played ball anyway :?


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2024 4:42 pm 
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and in effect tell you to hire a lawyer. Er, until I win the lottery...

Not a problem Uber seems to have. :roll:

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2024 9:04 pm 
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Interesting article from Aberdeen.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/ne ... rdeen-row/

I'm not sure, personally, that Uber is that bothered. To me, it seems they might struggle to get new drivers, and they will want plenty to start with.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2024 1:53 am 
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As is often the case with DC Thomson pieces (Dundee's Courier and Aberdeen's Press & Journal), it's now disappeared behind a paywall. So here it is:


Inside Aberdeen Uber row as woman at heart of debate speaks out – and council confirms ‘no special treatment’ for global giant


Roule Wood found herself in the crosshairs as she revealed Aberdeen Inspired had met with Uber about coming to the Granite City.

There’s a long sigh at the end of the phone.

“I – Alastair – I am not the story here. And certainly, I am not interested in a spat with anyone or fuelling a disagreement.”

It’s Roule Wood, who became a target of furious scrutiny and attack from the Aberdeen taxi trade last week.

With Aberdeen Inspired, she has spent the last year exploring ways of getting more drivers onto the streets to end the long queues at ranks through the cold, dark nights.

It’s argued the prolonged predicament is hampering the recovery of the struggling city centre.

Having managed the taxi project for a year, she’s lined up a new job in the private sector after three years with the business improvement organisation.

Before departing, Ms Wood shared an update on taxi progress on social media – which led to Uber confirming new plans to operate in Aberdeen.

A fortnight ago, she wrote: “We had a visit from a global taxi operator who met with stakeholders and ACC to discuss the possibility of launching in Aberdeen.

“I hope the city will get behind the reform we need to increase our driver pool – in quick time.”

Crazy Taxi: Trade’s uber-aggressive response to rumour

Immediately, talks of an unnamed worldwide brand meeting with city centre and council high heidyins got the hackles up.

The trade pack’s reaction only got worse when Uber stepped out of the shadows and confirmed to The P&J that bosses were taking a second look at Aberdeen.

A global giant, the ride-hailing service previously held a licence in the Granite City.

But Uber never arrived. Its licence to run a booking office was surrendered in 2019, two years after gaining permission.

The trade feared Uber would be brought into the city on a promise of special treatment.

Taxi and private hire drivers must pass the onerous street knowledge test before they can take fares in Aberdeen.

That means anyone securing a licence has to show that they know their Balnagasks from their Balgownies, across a gruelling 80 questions.

And trade bosses wanted to make sure Uber’s drivers would be the same.

On top of that, there was concern that rules stopping city drivers from taking fares in Aberdeenshire – and vice versa – would be waived for the big name.

Aberdeen taxi rules will not be bent for Uber

Taxi bosses have hailed victory in their fight to stop such a bypass of the restrictive rules, that many blame for the shortage of drivers in Aberdeen.

Council licensing bosses confirmed that – should they look to operate in Aberdeen – Uber will have to play by the same rules as everyone else.

A council spokeswoman said: “The licensing authority has advised on the application process, but no further discussions have taken place.

“Any application will be determined in line with the current statutory framework and we cannot comment on possible future applications.”

‘No suggestion of special treatment’ for Uber in Aberdeen

But, speaking with The P&J, Ms Wood rejected “any suggestion” she had asked for special treatment “for anyone”.

“What I highlighted was the current scenario for anyone entering the trade, drivers or operators, in the city.

“There has been no discussion or any appeal for special measures to be put in place for any operator. ”

She accused The P&J of “very much dissecting” her sentence – as we tried to understand who had met whom on Uber’s plans for Aberdeen.

“I live in Aberdeen and we all experience the same things,” she added, referring to the long lines at taxi ranks in the city centre and at the airport.

“For Aberdeen Inspired, the purpose of taking a look at the situation is to support our businesses.

“That’s why we exist but people are getting very upset about this.

“I read the trade had asked ‘Who sanctioned Roule Wood?’ Well, our businesses sanctioned us.”

Change will come ‘one step at a time’ for Aberdeen taxi drivers

Despite the vitriol, Ms Wood and the taxi trade do agree there is need for change.

But the flexibility is needed for everyone.

Russell McLeod, managing director of Rainbow City Taxis, told The P&J: “It is good news that Uber is not able to come in on any different terms to other operators.”

He was at a recent trade meeting, where council bosses made that clear.

Mr McLeod added: “The council says there are no plans to change or scrap the street knowledge test.

“It does need modernising and revamped though. It has been as it is for at least 20 years.

“So it does need to be looked at as our main aim is to recruit people into the trade.

“It sounds as if the meeting between Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Inspired was a one-way street. Aberdeen Inspired don’t seem to have listened.”

Is Aberdeen Inspired forcing Uber talks down a one-way street?

Work is already under way between the taxi trade and city officials to look at bringing the street knowledge test up to date.

Russell McLeod, managing director of Rainbow City Taxis, is campaigning for a seat at the table as talks continue with Uber.

“This will be fixed one step at a time,” Mr McLeod said.

“We have to come up with something the council can agree with. Then it will go to consultation. It will be months yet.

“But queues were around 45 or 50 minutes last Saturday night. That is not any different from what they were 10 years ago.”

Ms Wood rejected claims her talks with Aberdeen City Council had been one-way.

She added: “We have been very open and very honest in engaging both with businesses and the taxi trade.

“I know there are claims we haven’t, but we absolutely have and not only at this moment.”

‘Better than bunting’: What’s Roule Wood’s Aberdeen Inspired legacy?

Speaking in her last week with Aberdeen Inspired, she said highlights during her three-year stint included installation of the £400,000 suspended signs around the city centre.

The other was the ADHD umbrella installation in Shiprow.

“My original brief was ‘something better than bunting’.

“That would be one highlight, also seeing the 12 suspended signs finally completed and working beautifully, and everyone loving it.

“Looking into the taxi situation in Aberdeen is not something that can change overnight. There is a process to follow.

“But I would be delighted to see any improvement that benefits the city centre and the businesses we serve.”


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2024 1:55 am 
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This drones on a bit, and I think there's been a couple of similar pieces from Aberdeen in the past.

But the journo and P&J have certainly put a bit of effort into it, and there's 11 photos on the website :-o (which is behind a paywall). But again they're mainly similar to photos of people queuing at ranks that have been used previously, so can't be bothered including them on here.

But one or two interesting nuggets...


Do people think Uber would make a difference to Aberdeen’s long taxi queues?

We spoke to people standing in queues at the taxi rank to find out what they think about the taxi service, and if Uber could make a difference.

Is it normal for a queue of 40 people to let out a cheer when a taxi finally comes to pick them up in Scotland’s third-largest city?

Thousands braved the bitterly cold February night air to embrace Spectra on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, sports fans watching the Six Nations and dedicated Dons supporters celebrating a victory at Pittodrie helped fill the streets.

And while it was thankfully a dry night, the mood for many was slightly dampened by the long wait to get home at the end of a fun night.

There’s been a lot of talk about the lack of taxis serving Aberdeen recently and news of Uber planning to bring its ride-hailing service to Aberdeen.

I decided to head out to the queues in Aberdeen to find out what people think about the taxi service, how big the different queues really are, and if Uber could make a difference.

Difficulty getting taxis puts people off coming to centre

By 11.20pm the queue on Back Wynd was already snaking its way down past Bar 99, with the heavy smell of vinegar filling the air.

Again, four taxis swiftly pulled up to the rank and I’m pretty sure a man walking down the street jumped into the last taxi, claiming he had been at the front of the queue, but no one made a fuss at that point.

After that, it felt like an age until the next taxi turned up.

In the meantime, I got chatting to Ada Miron who had been enjoying a night out with some colleagues and was now waiting for a taxi home to Northfield.

The 40-year-old said she hadn’t been out for years but was surprised to discover the queues for taxis.

She said it can be difficult to get a taxi in general and it puts her off wanting to come into the city centre.

‘We’re very rarely in town’

Julie Lindsay, who is also from Northfield, said the lack of late-night travel options stops her and her friends from wanting to come into the city centre.

“We’re very rarely out in the town,” she explained.

“We’re never out, but we were tonight to catch up with friends, have a meal and look at Spectra. We went for a few drinks in the pub and unfortunately missed the last bus home so we thought we’d get a taxi.”

However, she said they’d walked around in search of a taxi to flag down and couldn’t get one so joined the queue on Back Wynd.

She finished: “It really is ridiculous.”

Football fans enjoy ease of Uber when following team across Europe

Ernie Morrison overheard me talking about taxis and weighed in on the subject.

The Dons fan said he’s been all over Europe to see his team play and every time he’s used Uber which he describes as “the best thing ever”.

“It comes no problem,” he adds. “All you do is get on your phone and pick the cheapest one available.

“Uber should be in Aberdeen because it’s brilliant.”

The 57-year-old who was waiting to get home to Dyce said there’s been times he’s booked a taxi to get him to football and they’ve never turned up, meaning he’s had to drive himself down in time instead.

Pub-goers leave night out early to try grab a taxi

I watched as a group of four unsuccessfully tried to hail a taxi further up Union Street. The minivan had stopped by the side of the road, and the men were chapping on the window hopefully.

But instead, it swung round to the other side of the street at the 8848 restaurant near Soul Bar where a queue had already formed at around 11.40pm.

Leanne Muir said there’s a “massive problem” with taxis after midnight, and that she finds she always struggles to get home safely.

Tonight, she’s out in a group, but she said they left the bar early to try to beat the queues and get back home to Torry.

She said: “It stops us from wanting to go out in the city, that’s why we’re heading home now because if we stayed even later it [the queues] would be even worse.”

Edward Esson chipped in and told me he’s witnessed arguments in taxi queues and thinks there should be plenty of taxis in a city like Aberdeen to take you home.

“Get Uber,” he exclaimed. “It will make a difference.

“We were in a taxi coming to town and the driver said to us ‘why would I work till night? I make enough money during the day’.

“Something needs to change.”

Which taxi rank is best to wait at on a Saturday night?

As I’m standing there chatting to the group at the rank near Soul Bar, three taxis pass by and not a single one stops. It’s then that I realise the queue, which has about 18 people in it, is moving very slowly.

In fact, the road is pretty quiet with very little cars and buses on it by this point.

Another man joined soon after and said he’d been waiting on Crown Street for about 20 minutes thinking it was still an operating rank.

Mark tells me he usually struggles to get home and doesn’t know where’s best to wait to try to get a taxi.

“It’s frustrating,” he said with a sigh. “I’m out way later than I’m supposed to be but it was my brother’s stagger, and now I’m standing in another queue for a 20-minute taxi ride back to Westhill.”

He added: “Uber would make a difference, I’ve used it in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I’m a football fan and I follow my team and yeah, I think it would make a huge difference.

“Aberdeen needs to waken up.”

Crowds cheer when taxis pull up on Union Street

Rebecca Adams is by herself when she joins the queue near Soul Bar and tells me she often “can’t be bothered” going out anymore because of the lack of taxis.

The 24-year-old added: “It’s a safety issue, I’ve just moved from the queue at McDonald’s up to here because the was an unpleasant experience.”

And once I made sure she was ok, I made my way down to that rank to see what it was like.

As I’m passing by, the queue from Back Wynd has completely disappeared, I can only imagine people dispersed and joined the bigger ranks.

Walking down Union Street I can see there is now a massive queue across the road from McDonald’s and I quickly count 40 people — but it’s steadily growing as more and more people trickle onto the street and join the end.

While trying to count the heads, a taxi pulled into the rank and was greeted with cheer and applause. I guess there hasn’t been a pick-up in a while.

Lack of taxis a safety issue says these Aberdeen mums

Rhiannon Fraser, Rachael Milne and Sandra Thomas have found themselves in the queue after enjoying a night out together at a concert.

They are roughly in the middle of the queue by the time I speak to them at 12.30am, and they say they’ve been there for roughly 30 minutes.

The women all agree that they think Covid resulted in Aberdeen’s lack of taxis, with many drivers finding other jobs during lockdown and not returning to the trade.

But, they also agree that Uber could turn things around as long as drivers have been police-checked.

Rachael says she doesn’t blame the taxi drivers for the shortage, but does worry more about the safety of younger girls trying to get home by themselves.

She said: “I’m in my 40s and I’ve got friends with me, I’m from a different generation and we know to stick together.

“My daughter is 11, in seven years I want to make sure she gets home safe. As parents we’re going to stay sober to pick them up, and at least our kids have parents who can drive and pick them up.

“Imagine if you can’t for whatever reason, if you’ve got a disability or can’t afford a car, imagine how worried you’d be.”

Her friend Rhiannon agreed and said: “Things happen, folk might follow you, or say things to you… you just never know.”

‘People end up stranded out here for hours’

More people hugging their takeaway bags closely, start joining the queue with many surprised to see how big it already is.

I can hear exasperated groups debating whether they should chance moving to a different queue, while others are resigned to waiting it out in the cold.

For 26-year-old Thomas Burt, this is his first time waiting for a taxi home after a night out in four years.

He told me he had been living in town so never had to think about getting home, but now he’s moved back to Newtonhill he has already been reminded how “dreadful” the wait can be.

Thomas and his friend Harry Tremain had been out enjoying a friend’s birthday and even left early to be “sensible” a try to get ahead of the taxi queue.

Thomas said: “Why, as a taxi driver, would you fail to attend this queue? Like, this is where all your business would be tonight and they seem to not care.

“To be fair, this is as good as it’s getting but it’s going to get a whole lot worse, this isn’t even peak time for taxis, and even then we’re still queueing for a significant amount of time. It’s quite disappointing.

“People end up stranded out here for hours.”

Long waits bring out a ‘community spirit’

Harry said most people waiting in taxi queues all feel in the “same boat” so he hasn’t really experienced any unpleasant situations.

He added: “Generally, you get a good kind of community spirit where hopefully if someone is going south of Aberdeen they ask if anyone else is going that way to be efficient. That’s certainly how I would be.”

I must admit I realised that as I chatted with people waiting, I heard others shouting out where they were headed in an attempt to share a taxi.

Whether everyone would feel safe to get in a car with a stranger off the street is a different matter, though.

The friends agreed that Uber would make a difference to Aberdeen, despite what taxi drivers think.

Thomas finished: “Taxis don’t want to see Uber, but there’s not enough taxi drivers. If they want to deflect Uber there needs to be more taxis because look at the state of this situation.”

Aberdeen taxi boss says there is ‘no quick fix’

Russell McLeod, managing director for Rainbow City Taxis, has stressed the company is working on a “sensible plan” that should increase the number of taxis in Aberdeen.

But he warned there is “no quick fix”.

Mr McLeod added: “Having been in the trade for over 30 years, waiting for a taxi late on a Saturday and Sunday morning is nothing new.

“As for Uber, do people realise that private hire cars cannot pick up from a rank, do they understand “surge pricing”?

“As a trade, we have been asking people to plan ahead, [and] those who do have no problem getting home.”


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2024 1:57 am 
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If I was writing something like that, think I'd mention the likes of the McDonald's incident recently reported in the same paper - the drunk punched the driver 12 times, and smashed up his car with a fire extinguisher, blah, blah.

And, from the passenger safety perspective, the fake driver court case that was reported a couple of weeks ago, which involved three different women...

But there's the usual contradictory evidence above about all this sort of stuff - one minute it's 'community spirit' on the ranks, but elsewhere a girl has to move to a different rank because of the atmosphere (ironically, near a McDonald's, but not the one where the driver was battered...).

And, of course, there's obviously an element of queue-jumping going on, despite all the 'community spirit'. Which in turns brings to mind the chap who died in the Dundee queue-jumping incident about five years ago, which of course is just the tip of a very large iceberg regarding that kind of thing.

Anyway, as per usual the article assumes that Uber would somehow reinvent the Aberdeen trade by magicking up that hidden pool of drivers, which it obviously can't...


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2024 2:07 am 
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Quote:
Thomas said: “Why, as a taxi driver, would you fail to attend this queue? Like, this is where all your business would be tonight and they seem to not care."

Yes, I'm sure the drivers are parked up somewhere watching YouTube videos, or whatever :roll:

But, of course, no doubt some HCDs working on circuits will actively avoid the ranks...

And even for street hires, I often think that the worst place to wait for a taxi is the ranks right in the city centre - drivers will stop to pick up street hails on the outskirts of the central area, if only to avoid the traffic lights etc in the centre, and to avoid possible trouble on the ranks.

And, of course, it's definitely more difficult to move around central Dundee these days than when I worked there back in the 1990s, thus even more reason to avoid the central area and the ranks there...

And I doubt if there's any town or city that it's easier to drive around nowadays than twenty years ago, say, so no doubt Aberdeen no different... :?


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