Uber takes surprise decision to shut down Local Cab service from December 11

Stranraer cab booking map with fare and time estimate.

Uber has taken the surprise decision to close its Local Cab service in the UK – though it plans to expand the service internationally.

An Uber spokesperson said: “Following a review we have decided to discontinue the Local Cab service in the UK, meaning that this product will no longer be available for Uber users. Autocab’s core business is unaffected and continues to grow.”

The Local Cab service was launched in 2021 following Uber’s takeover of dispatch systems provider Autocab in 2020. The service allowed private hire operators on Autocab’s iGo platform to access Uber jobs, giving customers using the Uber app the chance to use Uber’s platform in towns where Uber does not operate.

Around 70 operators had signed up to the service, and Uber rolled the service out in almost 100 UK towns and cities, in addition to the 17 cities where Uber has a direct presence. But Uber has now given operators 30 days’ notice that Local Cab will be switched off next month.

In an email to operators, Uber wrote: “Following a recent review of the performance of Local Cab in the UK, we have decided, regrettably, to discontinue the Local Cab service as of Monday 11th of December at 5pm. We are very sorry to bring this news and we are extremely grateful for the service provided by operators across the UK since Local Cab’s inception in 2021.”

Autocab managing director Safa Alkateb also emailed operators about the decision. He wrote: “The combination of the excellent technical integration of Local Cab and the more favourable market fit abroad means that we will be launching Local Cab internationally. Work is already well underway on this, and we look forward to announcing these partnerships in the New Year.”

“I want to assure you that the termination of the Local Cab service in the UK will not impact our service to you. As per your contract with Autocab, your data is your data and in line with data protection law, your data will continue to be protected. If you have signed a Local Cab contract with Uber, your contract ensures that any driver data provided for tracking details is not allowed to be retained or used by Uber for the purposes of marketing to those drivers.”

The announcement does not address why the decision has been taken, or whether Uber will resume launching its service with its own fleet of drivers in cities where customers will no longer be able to access the service.

Uber stopped direct launches in the UK in 2017, and even suggested that it might in future transition to a full platform, without operating its own cars, other than in very major cities such as London.

It is also possible that Uber will concentrate entirely on large urban areas and abandon plans to build a national app that works everywhere – which was the objective of Local Cab.