A BASILDON taxi firm has been forced to expand into Canvey and Castle Point to combat the influx of Uber drivers taking their business.
In March, the ridesharing app was “geo-fenced” from Southend, Chelmsford and Rayleigh, which prevents the driver operating in those locations.
Chris Cowley from Laindon, who manages the office of Basildon’s A & B Taxis, claims that Uber’s decision to make these Essex towns no-go zones is driving their business to Basildon.
“Poor old Basildon is excluded from this zone,” he said.
Mr Cowley, 67, whose company has 170 cabs in their fleet, said: “You see them a lot at Festival Leisure Park, and more and more at the station.
“There are lots more at weekends, because people drive for Uber as a part time job.
“Our drivers are very disgruntled. A lot of them assume that Uber is illegal.
“We are having to go into new ventures and expand because of Uber, as in Basildon, business is getting tight.”
Uber’s decision to restrict their drivers from operating in Southend, Chelmsford and Rayleigh comes as Uber is poised to appeal a decision by Transport for London decision to withdraw its operating license. In order to appease TfL, Uber has responded to concerns about it operating outside London by restricting its business in certain areas.
The withdrawal of Uber from Southend has proved to be good news for the town’s minicab drivers, who report that business is now booming for them.
One said: “Down on the ranks now it’s much busier, and at weekends you notice it the most - I just hope they don’t come back.”
Meanwhile, in Basildon, taxi drivers are now struggling to eek out a living.
“Business is definitely slower,” said Peter, a driver for Laindon Taxis.
“A lot of our old passengers are now trying Uber out now for the first time, it’s like a new toy on their phone. People coming out of the station are now ignoring the taxi cabs waiting there, they walk right past us and hop straight into an Uber.”