Andrew Brem, Uber's UK general managerImage source, Uber

Image caption,

Andrew Brem, Uber’s UK general manager

By Zoe Kleinman

Technology editor

Demand for Uber journeys in the UK is still strong, despite the soaring costs of living, the new boss of Uber UK has said.

Andrew Brem joined Uber UK in April.

Uber is looking to position itself as a “super-app” for travel – app users can now also book train and coach tickets and, in Liverpool, from rival taxi companies.

But Mr Brem ruled out an Uber railway takeover, saying the company was not interested in running a rail service.

“I don’t see us driving trains or operating train companies or coaches,” he said.

“We will stick to making it super-simple for riders to do the end to-end journey.”

‘Strong demand’

As the cost of living soared, Mr Brem said, more people may give up their own vehicles.

“It is going to be tough for people but I expect demand for movement to be fairly strong,” he said.

“I haven’t seen a reduction in demand for Uber rides yet,

“I’m seeing quite strong demand.

“And the strong demand tends to attract more people to come and drive on the platform.

“We have no plans to lay any anyone off at this moment.

“Things are going fairly well.”

There are currently more than 85,000 drivers on Uber’s books and it operates in about 60 UK towns and cities.

  • The average Uber journey, according to the company, is 4.5 miles (7km), the most popular destinations train stations
  • The first baby born in the back of an Uber was in 2016, en route to St Thomas’ hospital, in London

The US-based technology company launched in the UK 10 years ago this month, immediately unleashing a storm of controversy.

It was accused of trying to destroy the taxi sector, with its aggressively low fares, and has clashed several times over the years with workers’ unions over driver rights – not just in the UK.

For a long time, Uber argued its drivers were self-employed – but since March 2021, it has had to offer employee benefits, including minimum wage, sick pay and a pension.

And after years of being synonymous with ruthless disruption and disregard for rules and regulation, the company is really trying to rebrand itself as “human”.

“On [the Uber] platform, you can actually talk to the person who’s driving – and the driver can talk to the person riding,” Mr Brem said.

“For me, that kind of intersection between digital and physical is really unique – and a massive positive to the job.”