Thursday, 12 February 2015

The battle for driverless taxis heats up

Google and Uber could be about to go head-to-head in the race to develop driverless taxis after it was confirmed that both companies are to invest heavily in the technology.

Although the two firms are usually close collaborators - with Google investing hundreds of millions in Uber and the taxi booking app utilising Google Maps technology - they are set to become fierce rivals in a battle to develop reliable autonomous vehicles.

Google has made considerable steps forward in the development of driverless vehicles in the last few years, and although Uber is still a relatively young company, they are equally determined to ensure their long-term future by investing in the technology that many believe will eventually change the face of transport around the world.

This week has seen driverless cars trialled on UK roads for the first time, with demonstrations of the new technology taking place in London, Milton Keynes and Coventry. The Government are currently considering the regulation changes which will need to be made to the Highway Code to allow the vehicles to be used on the road by the public, and by 2030 the technology is expected to advance considerably, allowing cars to effectively 'take over' the roads.

With rumours circulating that Apple may have also began to look into the driverless car industry, the presence of driverless taxi cabs on our streets is beginning to look more like an inevitably rather than a possibility.  

Thursday, 29 January 2015

New electric cabs go on trial - the future of the London taxi?

Last week saw the first electric-powered black cabs hit the streets of London to go on a preliminary trial period in the city. Having been in development for the best part of the last ten years, the seven-seater taxis have a zero-emissions mode and run on two almost-silent electric motors.

The 'Range-Extended Electric Metrocab' has been entirely designed and built in the UK, and comes fitted with colour television displays, a USB charging socket and a panoramic glass roof for London passengers to enjoy during their journey. Drivers will also benefit from modern travel commodities, with a multifunction touch-screen display, hands free phone and air conditioning all fitted as standard.

Electric Metrocab closely resembles its predecessor.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson took one of the Metrocabs for an early test-drive back in April 2014, describing it as the 'Rolls Royce of taxis' and 'a masterpiece of British engineering.' With rising pollution levels across major cities, more and more governments are looking to bring in modes of transport with better energy efficiency. The new Metrocab houses a generator used to recharge the cab's battery or provide power directly to the motors, and as a result, the electric taxi is over three times more fuel efficient than the current London taxi.

How much the Metrocab will cost is yet to be disclosed, but having successfully covered over 600,000 engineering test miles, the new electric taxis may well have a growing presence on London's streets before too long.

Friday, 16 January 2015

London black cabs win bus lane court case

It’s a reasonably difficult time for London’s iconic black cabs at the moment, with taxi app Uber amongst others providing stiff competition for fares. But there was some good news for the black cab this week, as it was ruled that they are free to continue to operate by using the Capital’s bus lanes. Private taxi firms, however, don’t have this privilege.

In a case heard before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, private taxi firm Addison Lee claimed that use of bus lanes to bypass traffic and navigate London’s streets gave the black cab an unfair advantage over its competitors.

Black cab parked in London

But the court ruled in favour of the black cab, justifying its decision by claiming they are ‘not comparable’ to their cheaper rivals for a number of reasons. For example, only black cabs can pick up customers without pre-booking.

The ruling said: “Drivers of black cabs are subject to strict standards in relation to their vehicles, their fares and their knowledge of London, whereas those standards do not apply to minicabs.”

London black cab drivers have been up against it in recent months, staging protests against mobile ride-sharing services such as Uber and Hailo. But this ruling from the Court of Justice will go some way to protecting the black cab’s future, although Addison Lee may still choose to appeal the decision in British courts.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Addison Lee - The Calm In The Chaos?

As the battle of the city taxis heats up, Addison Lee - Europe's largest minicab firm, is using a digital and press campaign to position itself as the business-class taxi service.

The campaign is titled 'Calm In The Chaos'. A variety of designs all feature a couple travelling through the city streets in a bubble.

Under each headline is a perk of Addison Lee travel, such as; 'Our drivers are trained to leave you in peace' and 'Our prices are fixed the moment you book'. 

Just to ensure the message is fully embedded the strapline 'Go Business Class' is used under the Addison Lee branding. 

A modernised website has also been unveiled to coincide with the campaign launch.

What are your thoughts on the campaign? 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Why choose Taxi Advertising?

With such an expanse of advertising formats to choose from, why is it that taxi advertising is such a popular option?

Thousands of brands are choosing to regularly place their brand on the country’s taxis. Here’s an insight to why being on a taxi is the place to be seen…

Taxis are an iconic part of cityscapes, acting as the go-to option of travel for visitors to a city.
- In London alone, over 38 million cab rides are taken around London every year.

Acting as a mobile billboard, taxi advertising has the power to travel far and reach many. Not limited by route or location, taxis take a brand far and wide.
- The average London taxi travels 126 miles every day.

Taxi advertising is memorable. People waiting to cross the road, travellers stuck in traffic, people passing a taxi rank – all are valuable consumers who are proven to absorb and engage with brands who advertise on taxis. Whether a simple superside design or striking full livery wrap, taxi advertising gets you noticed.
- 81% of ABC1s spontaneously recalled seeing a brand on a cab.

Taxi advertising can get you where you want to go. There aren’t many other ways of getting your brand stationed outside a prestigious hotel or directly in front of audiences leaving a West End theatre.

The option for interior advertising allows you to reinforce your brand and create more of a direct impact with audiences inside the cab. The private space of a taxi interior allows brands to engage 1 on 1 with customers. Including websites and QR codes is also a fantastic addition that can often be wasted when used on other formats.
- More than 60 % of passengers use their phone whilst travelling in a cab.

For more information, contact one of our taxi advertising specialists.  

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Card Payments to be accepted in London's Black Cabs within Two Years

We live in a society where shoppers' faces fall aghast when unable to pay by card in a shop. Contactless card payments are becoming the norm, and gone are the days of spare change - people now don't blink at popping a packet of chewing gum on the debit card.

However the capital's black cabs haven't quite caught up. Until now. Transport for London is wanting to launch a consultation on making the acceptance of card payments compulsory by 2016. This gives cab drivers just two years to get on board. Currently, around half of the city's cabs do not have the facility to accept card payments and many drivers are opposed to the idea due to the cost of installing card readers. 88% of cab users on the other hand, want card payment as an option.

The argument goes that allowing card payments would not only be more convenient for the city's travellers (having to detour to a cash point is never fun), but also safer in protecting drivers and passengers from cash robbers.

The move has already been made in New York, with the fitting of card machines has been compulsory since 2008.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: "We are exploring a proposal to make this a mandatory requirement across the entire taxi fleet from 2016. The proposal would also see card transaction fees considered when we calculate overall taxis fares - meaning that passengers would pay the same fare regardless of how they chose to pay. The proposal will be discussed at the TfL Board in September and would be subject to a public consultation.”

If the proposal is agreed, this will be a step further for cashless transport in London after buses went cash free earlier this week.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Year of the Hailo: Booming Taxi App Expands Across the Globe

Gary Jackson, left, and Ron Zeghibe, co-founders of Hailo, in a London taxi cab. The London-born Taxi App Hailo is proving its grounding as the app for cab drivers, after spreading to thirteen countries across three continents.

What started out as the meeting of six cabbies in a central London cafe trying to improve the lot of the average cabbie, has now developed into a company that has raised more than £55m in three years.

The concept of the app is simple - working by using the app to hail a nearby taxi, and allowing users to pay by credit card via pre-stored information. What makes the app different, is the benefit it also provides for cab drivers.

Co-founder Ron Zeghibe explains: "We were the eighth app to launch in London. Addison Lee had [had] an app for two years. You had Kabbee and GetTaxi [among others]. All these guys had a headstart and should have been able to get the market share.
"The problem, I think, was that most of them looked at getting the customers. We flipped that on its head. With the help of these guys on the inside we realised that what it is really about is building the loyalty [of] the driver base".

Drivers pay 10% of the cost of the job when they pick up a customer, while the app got rid of additional costs such as "run-in" fees (charged from when a driver takes the booking) to market black cabs as being value for money. Credit-card facilities were also included and a social networking function and accounting features were added to show which areas are busy, and how much has been earned. 

Putting the focus on cab drivers has obviously worked, with 14,000 drivers signed up in London and an impressive 50,000 internationally. Hailo now has plans to open in six more cities this year.