Uber dominates UK transport, ViaVan catching up

Mar 06, 2019


Adam Blacker

Mar 06, 2019

VP, Insights

There’s no shortage of venture-backed transportation firms in the UK that are eager to dethrone Uber, but how well are they doing? Judging by the numbers, not great. Brits are more than twice as likely to download Uber than any of its nearest competitors, combined.

Over the past 12 months, Brits downloaded Uber a grand total of 5.5 million times. However, a group containing six of Uber’s most potent rivals – including ViaVan, Gett, and MyTaxi – saw a mere 2.5 million downloads.

UK Transit

Things don’t get better when you look at engagement. With an average engagement rating of 92% on Android, Uber’s users open the app practically every day, whether that’s to book a ride, or simply to gawk at their passenger rating.

Averaged together, its rivals have an engagement rating of just over 27% – or 70% lower than Uber. That means their users open the app just once or twice a week.

Obviously, engagement varies wildly from provider to provider, with some platforms massively outperforming others. At 31.6% on Android, ViaVan had the second strongest overall engagement rating of all the companies we looked at. Way at the bottom was Arriva’s upstart offering, ArrivaClick, with an engagement rating of under 18.2%.

Traditional taxi companies cling on

It’s worth mentioning that many of the apps we’re looking at are centered around traditional “hackney” taxis and minicabs. Addison Lee, for example, is the largest private hire taxi firm in London. Gett and MyTaxi are tech platforms that connect riders with selected taxis. All firms are competing in trying to add a technological layer to a product that already exists.

Despite that, they still can’t hold a candle to Uber in terms of engagement and retention. Addison Lee, for example, has a thirty-day iOS retention rate that’s 50% lower than that of Uber.

Gett fares better – but only barely, with 34.9% fewer people opening the app thirty days after the initial install.

You can interpret this in many ways. It’s likely that the overall decline in the traditional taxi industry plays a major part in Gett and Addison Lee’s comparatively depressed numbers. It could also suggest that drivers aren’t readily adopting these apps, thereby reducing their utility to consumers.

It also probably doesn’t help that both apps aren’t available countrywide. Addison Lee is only really available in London, while Gett operates in just a few UK markets. Uber, on the other hand, has been a lot more aggressive in its British expansion plans. Places that lack the Californian ridesharing service now feel like the exception and not the rule. If you travel extensively across the UK, Uber is likely going to be more useful to you.

Shared transportation shows promise

One interesting trend in the UK transportation movement is the stratospheric rise of shared transportation. ViaVan is perhaps the most successful example of this, and is growing rapidly in the capital, thanks to its promise of cheaper fares than Uber, and a vast financial war chest. To date, it’s raised around $387 million, per CrunchBase.

And then there’s ArrivaClick. This is the product of a partnership between public transport giant Arriva and ViaVan. So far, it’s only available in a couple of markets, which explains its limited download numbers (52,000 versus Uber’s stratospheric 5.58 million).

BlaBlaCar is also interesting. This connects ordinary people traveling long-distance (say, from London to Glasgow), and lets them recoup some of their costs by taking along a passenger.

The data across all platforms paints a promising picture for ViaVan. Although it only has 1/6th the downloads of Uber, it’s got roughly half the monthly active users (MAUs), suggesting that people are using the app with some habituality. This is reinforced by platform-specific data. On iOS, ViaVan has around 40% the thirty-day retention of Uber.

That’s not bad for a little-known transportation upstart. If I was Dara Khosrowshahi, I’d certainly be concerned.

Things are less impressive for ArrivaClick. With just 52,000 downloads in the previous 12 months, it barely registers on our landscape. That works out to a measly 4,300 downloads each month. MAUs are similarly lackluster, with just 14,200 people opening the app each month. Platform-specific data reinforces this dreary outlook, with an engagement index on iOS of just 13.18%, compared to Uber’s 95%. That means that most people who download the app barely open it once a week.

Numbers weren’t that great for BlaBlaCar, but I wouldn’t read too much into them. For starters, its business model centers around people taking occasional long-distance trips, rather than regular short trips. This high-value, low-volume concept means things like MAUs and engagement are less important than they would be for, say, ViaVan or Gett.

During the past 12 months, BlaBlaCar was downloaded 165,500 times, with MAUs of 58,200. Engagement data shows that most people who use the app open it just once a week, while it has an respectable average 30-day retention rate of 4.8 percent on iOS.

Final Thoughts

The UK transportation market is incredibly competitive. Thanks to a glut of VC funding, there’s no shortage of companies vying to revolutionize it with their own offering. Despite that, there were few surprises in our numbers, except perhaps when it comes ViaVan. Uber is king, followed by legacy taxi apps, followed by more niche apps like ViaVan and BlaBlaCar.

That said, the data from ViaVan shows that it’s possible to challenge Uber at its own game. The exact causes are an entirely separate blog post, but it’s obvious the company is doing something right.

Adam Blacker

VP, Insights