Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Another Taxi App Arrives - with a Difference

There is yet another taxi smartphone app making the headlines this week, as cab-hailing platform GetTaxi has announced its intentions to rebrand as 'Gett.' At the same time, the app will be extending its services to offer customers the option of having products delivered to their homes, on top of offering traditional cab journeys.

Gett is claiming to be the first UK taxi app to branch out from its core transportation services, offering users the ability to order food, beauty treatments and other services direct to their homes within a 10 minute window. Rival app Uber has recently launched 'UberEATS', a food delivery service which follows a similar concept - but is only currently available to users based in New York City.

Gett founder and chief executive, Shahar Waiser, told The Telegraph: "It was expected that the industry would expand - it was just a matter of time. There are many operational difficulties and the industry had to mature to be ready to expand." 

The delivery feature is set to launch in July this year, and although the list of services available are yet to be announced, Waiser hinted that the likes of 'Gett Pizza,' 'Gett Dry Cleaning,' and 'Gett Grocery' are all strong possibilities - as well as the traditional 'Gett Black Taxi.' The new services will be provided either by local services that have applied for approval from Gett, or from a range of big-name partners - such as supermarkets and wholesalers - with whom the app will be able to guarantee a 10 minute delivery of products. 

Gett currently employers around 20,000 taxi drivers in the 32 global cities in which it operates, including 6,000 driving on the streets of London. Waiser has stressed that transportation will remain at the heart of the company's business, with the new options having nothing to do with its current drivers."They have enough to do without delivering pizzas," he said.

Gett is expected to generate over £300 million in revenue this year from its cab-hailing service, and this figure is expected to grow significantly should the new features prove to be successful.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

London Black Cab Drivers Stage 'Go Slow' Protest

A protest on Tuesday brought famous London high street Oxford Street to a standstill for a number of hours, as black cab drivers in the capital made a stand against Transport for London bosses to raise awareness of the industry's recent struggles.

Hundreds of the iconic black cabs lined the street as part of a pre-planned 'go slow' protest, with drivers claiming that TfL has caused a 'steady erosion' of their business due to its failure to properly address the problem of unlicensed minicab touts or correctly regulate the industry. Some drivers have claimed that trade has dropped by as much as 30% in recent years.

Taxi Protest Oxford Street London TfL Transport for London

It's not the first protest that has ground traffic to a halt in London, with over 5,000 cab drivers involved in a mass demonstration in Trafalgar Square last year against mobile taxi app Uber.

However, organisers of this latest stunt - The United Cabbies Group - have insisted that the Oxford Street protest is nothing to do with services such as Uber and Hailo, with the group believing the black cab's problems and dwindling trade is fully the responsibilty of London transport bosses. United Cabbies Group chairman, Len Martin, told the London Evening Standard that "TfL are desperately trying to deflect attention but this is about their woeful performance. If TfL enforced the law, there would be plenty of work on the streets."

Martin also stated that there are fewer than 40 transport officers working on tackling the issue of unlicensed taxis in the city, which he claims is resulting in the public being left at considerable risk.

TfL's chief operating officer for surface transport, Garrett Emmerson, hit back at the protest by describing London's taxi regulation as "the envy of the world." He claimed that people approached by bogus taxis at night has fallen by over 50% in the last 12 years, with cab-related sexual offences also falling by 38% over the same period.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Ride-Sharing App Maaxi Launches in London

Competition in the London taxi market is fierce, with apps such as Uber and Hailo significantly changing the industry in recent months and increasing pressure on drivers of the traditional London black cab.

However, newly-launched app Maaxi is hoping to come to the aid of London cabbies, with its new ride-sharing service offering passengers the chance to reserve individual seats in black cabs - meaning that you could end up sharing your journey with up to five complete strangers.

Maaxi Taxi App Ride Sharing London Taxi

The idea behind Maaxi is to give users access to cheaper fares when it comes to getting around the city, with black cab journeys currently one of the most expensive ways to travel around London. By booking an individual seat - in a similar fashion as to how you would reserve a place on a train or a plane - you will share the cost of your journey amongst fellow passengers travelling on a similar route, who will be picked up and dropped off throughout the journey. Maaxi is aiming to become the first business in London to offer competitively-priced public transport from door-to-door.

Unlike Uber and Hailo, Maaxi is aiming its service predominantly at those areas which already have the highest demand for public transport, and currently has 2,500 drivers signed up at launch. Founder and CEO, Gabriel Campos, said he is aiming for the service to account for at least 1% of all public transport journeys in London by April 2016. To achieve this, the number of Maaxi drivers will need to top 10,000.

Initial safety fears have been quashed by Maaxi, who claim that passengers will be able to book whole cabs to themselves should they wish, and have the choice of riding in all-male, all-female or mixed-sex taxis if they opt to ride-share. All passengers need a valid UK address and bank account in order to register and travel in a Maaxi black cab, meaning they are trackable should any problems occur.

Maaxi believes that, by focusing on the public transport aspect of London travel, it has the potential to be much bigger than the likes of Uber and Hailo, with public transport the next industry to be disrupted by relatively new smartphone-based technology.

"I cannot see people taking two buses to get from place to place in three to four years," said Campos. "It's over. The revolution is growing and we are the bleeding edge of it."

Thursday, 26 March 2015

1,000 New Jobs Thanks to London Taxi Company

Up to 1,000 new jobs are set to be created in the taxi industry in the coming years, after it was announced that a new £250 million factory is to be built on the outskirts of Coventry. The investment has been made by Chinese manufacturer Geely, owners of the London Taxi Company (LTC), who are the producers of the iconic London black cab.

London Taxi Company New Factory to Create Jobs

The new plant is aiming to be opened in 2017, and it's predicted to make a big contribution to the demands of London Mayor Boris Johnson who is aiming for all new taxis operating in the capital to be capable of zero emissions by 2018. The factory will include research and development facilities as well as an assembly plant to build the next generation of electric and low-emission vehicles, and is said to be the biggest ever investment of its type by a Chinese company in the UK.

After falling into administration in 2012, LTC was acquired by Geely in 2013 who have already made an £80 million investment into the new TX5 hybrid taxi, but now plan to launch an electric version in 2018. The new factory is hoping to increase LTC production from just under 2,000 cars a year to a a huge 36,000. 


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Uber in the news for all the wrong reasons

Mobile taxi app Uber has made the headlines once again in the past few days, with a number of Californian taxi firms suing the company for false and misleading advertisements regarding the safety of its service.

19 taxi companies have claimed that Uber has wrongly criticised the safety of taxi rides offered by other established firms in the state, by making false and misleading statements with the intention of encouraging users to opt for the service offered by the mobile app. By apparently mistakenly suggesting they will receive a 'safer' ride than their competitors provide, local taxi businesses feel that the app has damaged the reputation of their companies and reduced customer numbers.

Uber Taxi App California Lawsuit

This isn't the first time that Uber has been involved in a supposes breach of Californian law, with the firm being accused in December 2014 of misleading consuemrs over its background checks on drivers. The latest lawsuit comes within less than 24 hours of Uber's offices in Paris being raided by French police, as part of ongoing investigations into its UberPOP peer-to-peer ride-sharing service, which utlises drivers who may not be insured or licensed - which obviously raises safety concerns.

These are just two of the problems that Uber is facing around the world. Germany has recently issued a nationwide ban of the UberPOP service after declaring its business model to be illegal, while in South Korea, Uber are being investigated for breaking local communications and transportation rules.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Transport for London to increase the number of taxi ranks in the capital

London residents, commuters and tourists will find it easier to flag down one of the city's iconic black cabs in the near future, as Transport for London announced that an additional 100 taxi ranks will be installed, bringing the total across London to 600 by the year 2020.

Transport for London to Increase Number of Taxi Ranks

Many of the new ranks will be opened outside of Underground stations, mainline railway stations, hotels and popular night-time hotspots in a bid to crack down on the number of Londoners using unlicensed taxis and making it easier and safer for people to get around the city at night.

TfL is also aiming to improve services for those on the outskirts of the city, by creating more 'island ranks' that allow suburban taxi drivers to pick up passengers from the edge of their licensed area.

Transport for London commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy, said: "We are not complacent and recognise that both the taxi and private hire trades must move with the times and keep pace with technological advances."

The expansion of London's taxi rank network is estimated to cost around £600,000.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "These plans deliver on my commitment to listen to the taxi trade and to help it to continue to offer passengers a first rate service that is the envy of the world. Boosting the number and the type of taxi ranks we have - particularly in the suburbs - is central to this aim and will help to ensure better business for cabbies and an even better service for customers."

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.