Uber's move into Sunderland sparks big online debate

Uber taxi service
Uber taxi service
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The news that Wearside’s taxi market could be set for a “fare fight” now that American firm Uber is now operating in the area has provoked a huge reaction among readers.

The service is moving into Sunderland as it builds on its trade in the UK.

And the company is pledging to offer its “most affordable” version of the service with uberX, which is said to be its “low-cost” option and already runs in Newcastle.

A fully-licensed private hire driver can be booked through the cashless app, with a sample fare of £3.50 from Park Lane to the Stadium of Light.

Customers can see the driver’s photo, name and car reg and watch their four-seater car arrive in real-time.

The firm says drivers are licensed through Sunderland City Council and have passed an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Many readers took to the Echo’s Facebook page to speak of their experience of the service.

Jay Watson wrote: “People are complaining but you save a fortune on Uber taxis compared to cabs. You will see.”

While Rob Hebron said: “Brilliant news, I use them all time when in London, saved a small fortune.”

James Clark-Allan wrote: “Save a fortune with these in London and Manchester!”

Lorraine Thompson spoke about her experience of the company, saying: “Uber is fab, would defo use it.

“I’ve used them in Florida and London and wouldn’t use anybody else never had a problem with them.”

And Ryan Cumiskey said: “Great news. Maybe not for taxi drivers but cheaper for the paying public.”

Uber is following in the footsteps of firms with its support for charity, with a promotion with Grace House, with £15 off their first trip and £5 donation.

Trevor Hines, managing director of Station Taxis which runs 200 cars, a round-the-clock call centre, has 400 self-employed drivers and 34 staff, however argued that local firms will be able to keep their share of the market despite the increase in competition.

He said: “I’m not going to say that Uber won’t affect us.

“I think the people of Sunderland are very savvy and know enough when it comes to these surge prices.

“They might get a fare for £1 one day, but they might see that goes up to £6 or £7 next time, and I think if they find that once, they won’t want to again.”

Chris Yiu, Uber’s general manager, said: “We’re really excited to be launching in Sunderland.

“Nearly 10,000 people in the city have opened the app in the last 90 days, so we know there is real demand for the service here.”

Not all readers were positive about Uber coming to Sunderland.

Many cited issues with varying tariffs and also suggested that members of the public would be better off supporting local firms.

Raja Asif wrote: “We don’t want Uber in Sunderland.

“It’s too small we already have too many firms and taxi cabs. “Sunderland isn’t big as Newcastle or other major cities.

“I think it’s going to be a flop especially if they don’t know where they going and just relying on there navigations.”

Anthony Worgan wrote: “I use Uber in France as the taxi drivers there way overcharge it’s a bad service, you can get a Uber for half the price it’s a good service, but in the UK most normal taxis provide a good service for a good price. Can’t see me using Uber in Sunderland.”

Bob Jackson said: “Keep your money in Sunderland and stay local.

“No wonder the city can’t get invested in if everyone spends elsewhere, especially giving your money to a multi millionaire in the USA.”

Eileen Robinson said: “No thanks, I will stick with Station Taxis when I need one.”

Donna Finnigan wrote: “Boycott them and stay local. It’s monopolisation.”

Debra Stokoe: “I think I will stick with my local taxi firms that employ local drivers and not an American corporation expanding over the water.

“I would rather know the money I was spending was helping a local family rather than a multi millionaire who doesn’t need my fare or a extra few pounds!”