Saturday 24 March 2018

Uber claims credit for falling numbers of young drivers

Uber Photo: Reuters
Uber Photo: Reuters

James Titcomb

Uber has claimed the credit for falling numbers of young drivers, pointing to figures suggesting that the taxi-booking app is one of the key reasons people have give up their cars.

Data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency showed that the number of driving licences held by under-25s has fallen by 6.2pc in the last four years, from 2.89m in November 2012 to 2.71m in March.

Among 16-30-year-olds, driving licences have fallen by 73,000 in the last four years, despite licences across all age groups rising.

The decline has coincided with the rise of Uber, which markets itself as an alternative to car ownership and is mostly used by young city-dwellers.

The app, which lets users hail a private hire car from their smartphone, has been attacked by critics for adding to congestion in the capital and encouraging people to take cars instead of public transport.

Although the fall in young drivers across the UK could also be down to squeezed incomes or more under-25s living in cities, Uber pointed to YouGov research, carried out on behalf of the company, that suggested the app had played a part.

The survey of 1,008 Londoners showed that 28pc who had given up a car say they no longer own one because of Uber or similar services. This rises to 42pc among those who do use the app, which has 2 million customers in London.

The figures are an attempt to deflect claims that Uber, which has more than 40,000 drivers across the UK, has contributed to traffic and pollution in major cities. The previous mayor of London, Boris Johnson, floated the idea of a cap on the number of private hire vehicles in the city in an attempt to combat congestion.

"These figures suggest apps like Uber are starting to have an impact on car ownership," Uber's UK boss Jo Bertram said. "Ditching your own car can be good for our city as well as your wallet. When people can get around and connect with public transport without needing their own car there’s less need for parking spaces."

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