UBER cars appear to not be running in Basingstoke despite the company launching in the town earlier this year.

As previously reported, the Uber app was showing as up and running in Basingstoke in May with a choice of cars available to book.

However, residents have told the Gazette that they have been unable to book an Uber ride in the town and that no drivers are operating in the area.

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When the Gazette tried to book a car from our offices in Chineham, the app displayed various messages saying ‘Thanks for your patience we’re still trying to find you an Uber driver’; ‘Finding a driver nearby’; and ‘Confirming driver details’ before stating that Uber is ‘currently unavailable’ after around five minutes.

Uber Reserve – booking a ride in advance – was also showing as unavailable in Basingstoke.

As previously reported, residents have complained to borough councillors that the current taxi service in the town is ‘appalling’.

At a borough council meeting in March, Cllr Laura Edwards asked Cllr Jay Ganesh, the cabinet member for planning and infrastructure at the time, what the council was doing to encourage taxi companies such as Uber and Addison Lee to the town.

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She said: “The private hire companies are delivering a low-quality service, this is unacceptable.”

She said one resident had to ask their neighbour to drive them to Southampton hospital so they did not miss their cancer treatment appointment because the car they booked had failed to turn up.

“Other issues include the app showing a confirmed booking, but the car is late or fails to arrive,” she said, adding: “Residents are desperate to have a basic facility where they can book a private car, that will just turn up on time.”

Cllr Ganesh told the meeting that the issue with declining driver numbers post-Covid was one experienced across the country, with Basingstoke seeing a “drastic drop” after the pandemic.

He said there were around 285 licenced drivers at the time – from 315 pre-Covid – and said the council was processing 55 new driver applications.

The council was also working with the local private car hire operator to address issues such as driver shortages, as well as revising the application paperwork to simplify the process for new applications.

A spokesperson for the borough council has now said: "Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is continuing to streamline the application process to encourage driver applications and work with operators to support drivers applying to work in Basingstoke.

"As a result, the number of private hire drivers licenced has increased 16 per cent in the last 12 months and a significant number of new drivers are currently going through the application process.

"The council has not received any interest or an application from Uber for an operator’s licence in the borough. Uber operates in some larger urban areas, such as Portsmouth and Southampton, and some of their drivers live in the borough.

"Because Uber’s app-based operation allows members of the public to book electronically with details of the booking being sent to the best-placed driver at the time of the booking, local people may be able to book an Uber car if there is one in their vicinity."

Uber has also been asked for a comment.

What is your experience with taxis in Basingstoke? Do you work as a taxi driver in Basingstoke? Get in touch by emailing emily.roberts@basingstokegazette.co.uk.