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UBER UPDATE


DEP LEADER OXFORD COUNCIL SAYS UBER IS TRYING TO ENTER THROUGH BACK DOOR


BBC News reports that Uber has been accused of trying to enter Oxford’s taxi market “through the back door” by its city council’s deputy leader. Oxford firm 001 Taxis is to use Uber’s software in a first for the city. But Tom Hayes said the local authority has “concerns” and its legal team is reviewing the arrangement. Uber said its Local Cab trial is an “exciting first step” into the city taxi market with “local operators”. It plans to allow app users in Oxford to find a 001 Taxis driver, which other taxi firms worry will affect competition. Mr Hayes said neither Uber or 001 Taxis contacted the city council about their arrangement before it was announced publicly in June. “The waters are murky, whether you define Uber as an operator or a platform provider,” he said. “We have not licensed Uber in the city. We haven’t done that because we wanted to support the local taxi trade, whether that’s private hire or hackney.” An Uber spokeswoman said: “Launching Local Cab in Oxford is an exciting first step in connecting riders with local operators.”


UBERS BANNED FROM SYDNEY CBD DURING PLANNED ANTI-LOCKDOWN PROTEST


Ubers and taxis were ordered to stay away from Sydney’s central business district on Saturday 21 August in a bid to stop protesters travelling to a planned anti-lockdown rally. According to news.com.au, New South Wales Police prohib- ited seven rideshare and passenger services from taking residents to the city’s centre between 9am and 3pm as an extraordinary response to “planned unlawful protest activity”. More than 1,500 officers were deployed to the areas where protesters were demonstrating against the draconian statewide lockdown. “The transmission of the delta strain of Covid-19 presents a clear and present threat to the community,” Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell said. “Now is not the time to gather in groups in protest. This prohibition notice is just one of our strategies to prevent any unlawful mass gathering and keep our community safe.” The direction to taxis and rideshare companies does not apply to essential workers and anyone who needs medical treatment who will be able to travel to the CBD. Companies who fail to comply with the notice risk a maximum penalty of $500,000, while individuals face fines of up to $100,000. Australia has had a total of c. 980 deaths since the start of the pandemic.


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UBER SUFFERS HEAVY DRIVER INCENTIVES SPENDING IN THE USA


Uber is struggling to attract drivers who have left the company because the demand for rides had fallen sharply during the pandemic. Passengers have returned to Uber more quickly than drivers, causing long waiting times and higher prices, reports newmobility.news. To tempt drivers back to the platform, Uber increased incentives and bonuses, and this expenditure is also depressing Uber’s performance resulting in a larger-than- expected operational loss. For the April-June period, Uber posted an adjusted loss of $509m before EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depre- ciation, and amortization). It’s an improvement of $328m over the same period last year, but worse than the $325m loss Wall Street had expected, reports the Financial Times. The number of journeys and deliveries on the platform rose 105% compared with last year’s same period to $1,5b, when corona measures were at their peak worldwide. That drove revenue to $3,93b, more than the $3,75b analysts had predicted. But the company’s take rate (its share of the fare) was pressured by the higher cost of getting willing drivers behind the wheel, Uber said. As a result, the take rate for rideshare was 18,7%, compared with 25,8% in the same period last year. Analysts had expected more than 20%, according to FactSet. That also had its consequences for Uber’s share price. That fell by more than 8% in after-hours trading, having already fallen more than 5% during the week. Uber was kept afloat in the corona crisis by the boom in meal deliveries through its food delivery business, Uber Eats. Taxi services are now picking up, but management warns that the encroaching delta variant of the coronavirus could shatter the fragile recovery. “From February to July, the number of monthly active drivers and meal providers in the US increased by nearly 420,000”, said Dara Khosrowshahi. He said the company also added an extra 110,000 couriers as part of its recently completed acquisition of former rival Postmates, an American quick-commerce and food delivery service that operates in almost 3,000 U.S. cities. The drivers coming back are mostly older workers. With vaccination rates rising, they are once again finding it safer to do their jobs. However, Uber’s investment in China’s Didi (11% stake) and autonomous technology company Aurora, helped it post its first quarterly profit as a public company. Uber reported $1,1b in net income for the second quarter, attributed to previously unrealised gains in both companies. Many drivers in America take the incentives, but they’re not sure if they will continue to drive for Uber because they have cut the rates so low that it doesn’t make any sense to work for them.


SEPTEMBER 2021


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