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Cardiff operators play down Uber launch threat

The launch last month of Uber in Cardiff will bring “nothing new” to the city’s taxi business, according to leading local operators.

Veezu CEO Paul Ragan (pictured), whose giant group owns Dragon Taxis in Cardiff, said Uber’s arrival could be seen as positive as it will encourage the use of booking apps.

“For those forward-thinking taxi firms that have already invested in cloud-based dispatch software and mobile app technology, Uber, and other app-only businesses, are playing a pivotal role in raising awareness of booking a taxi via an app, which must be seen as a positive,” he said.

Ragan said Veezu’s experience in Leeds, where its Amber Cars operation has been competing with Uber for some time, had led to growth. Amber Cars now has more drivers and passengers than it did before Uber arrived, he said.

He said less than 10% of business in the £9 billion UK private hire and taxi sector is processed via credit card on a mobile app. “Uber’s presence in UK regions is undoubtedly forcing smaller taxi firms to do or die by either investing in the required technology, merging with firms who already have, or exiting altogether.”

Other operators said they were not worried about Uber. Premier Taxis director Tim Mahonay said: “We have got no problems with competition. I would imagine it would affect more people like Hackney firms. We already have an app for bookings and you can use cash for it. We don’t think it will affect us that much.” He said Premier would not “surge-price” so his customers will always know the fare they will be charged.

And Capital Cabs director Sharyn Donnachie said: “Uber brings nothing new to the table. No new drivers and no new cars. They’re just reallocating resources that we already have, and using an app which is almost as good as ours. When things go wrong they won’t have a team of staff working 24 hours a day to resolve any issues.”

She added that people should think before using Uber: “Uber’s business model will take revenue from the local economy which will have a detrimental effect on local people and companies.”

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