Thursday, 21 May 2015

Uber Challenge Boris Johnson on Proposed Minicab Limits

Taxi app Uber is hitting back at plans made by Boris Johnson to cap the number of minicabs in operation on the streets of London by challenging the Mayor of London to a debate on the future of taxis in the capital.

Johnson has made no secret of his desire to limit the number of minicabs in operation in the city, blaming Uber and other cab-hailing apps for an increase in congestion, air pollution and adding to the number of illegally parked vehicles.

However, Uber is currently unable to directly challenge such a move as it is not represented on the board of Transport for London - its head of UK business, Jo Bertram, therefore is asking for a chance to debate the issue with Johnson, according to a letter seen by the Financial Times. Uber is claiming that if additional drivers are not able to be recruited to meet the demand for its service, prices will rise.

Bertram told Business Insider UK: "We have asked to meet the Mayor as we agree with him that London's traffic is a concern. The answer isn't to limit licenses and jobs. As seen elsewhere in the world, this would simply push up prices and force people back into their own cars, causing more congestion and pollution."

Uber's current 17,000 London drivers make it the largest private hire provider in the capital, with the number of minicabs in the city growing by nearly a fifth in 2014. The Mayor said in a statement last week: "We must be able to take action against the threat posed by the massive increase we are seeing in the number of private hire vehicles. There are only 25,000 black cabs and 8,000 buses in London and yet there are already over 75,000 minicabs and rising."

Uber is involved in a court case involving the London Taxi Drivers Association, who claimed that Uber's use of the smartphone to log journeys goes against current regulations.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Uber's Value Set to Hit $50 Billion

Cab-hailing app Uber is on course to become one of the most valuable venture-backed startup companies in history as its worth accelerates towards the $50 billion mark after a new fundraising push. It means that the mobile app's value has grown by a huge $10 billion in just six months.

Uber has recently brought in more funds from investors looking to help fund its overseas expansion, as well as to finance strategic moves such as partnerships and sponsorships. The latest cash injection sees Uber's value surpass that of Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi, making the taxi app the world's most valuable privately-owned startup.

Since being founded in 2008, Uber has gone on to become a key player in the taxi industry, now operating in over 200 cities across the globe and even outnumbering the number of famous yellow cabs in New York City.

The app has attracted its fair share of controversy, dividing opinion across the industry and facing a whole host of legal problems. The company is currently being investigated for its activities in China and France, and is also involved in a rape case in India. In the UK, London black cabbies have protested against the app's presence on the streets on more than one occasion. However, despite these setbacks, Uber's chiefs appear to have ambitious plans for the future, with CEO Travis Kalanick recently claiming that it is looking to create 50,000 jobs in Europe over the next 12 months.

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.

GetTaxi Logo

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.