With the introduction and advancement of any form of new technology there comes a change, a change which usually leads to those who use the old system losing out. This is what we are currently experiencing in the UK taxi trade as the introduction of taxi Apps such as Uber have led to traditional taxi drivers being squeezed out of the market.
Unfortunately, even though London’s taxi drivers have staged numerous protests against Uber being allowed to operate in the capital it is unlikely that they will stop this new type of technology entering the market. Each day we see more and more news stories on taxi Apps including Uber, Maaxi, GetTaxi and Bounce. This means that even though taxi drivers who have been working in the industry for years may not be happy about the change, there isn’t much they can do to stop it.
So what will happen to black cabs? At the moment it looks as though there are two possible outcomes: either black cabs will start to disappear from London’s streets to be replaced by drivers who use taxi Apps, or they can adapt their businesses so that they can take on those that are squeezing them out of the market. One of the biggest issues currently facing black cabs is that they are generally more expensive than their taxi App counterparts, however a new App may be able to solve this issue.
Bounce’s technology allows users to compare fares for a range of taxis including black cabs, which thanks to a loophole are able to offer customers cheaper fares than what’s on the meter. Nicko Williamson, chief executive of Bounce, said: “We love black cabs, and think they’re an iconic part of London’s history and identity.
“However, at the moment many people think of them as the expensive option, even though in a lot of cases they work out at the same price or even cheaper than a minicab. Bounce is here to give Londoners the ability to make an informed and transparent decision, and put every driver on an equal footing.”
Currently, Apps such as Uber allow black cabs to sign up however unlike Bounce they are unable to alter their fares. One of the reasons why taxi drivers have been protesting over taxi Apps is because they give drivers the ability to run on a “meter” using their phones – something black cab drivers claim is not allowed under their licences and therefore is breaking the law.
The fact that the taxi App GetTaxi is planning on expanding across the UK may therefore be unpopular among taxi drivers, however at the same time it could potentially take market share away from Uber. Recent reports have revealed that this year the company is planning on expanding into Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingam, Leeds and Glasgow.
Speaking about the company’s decision, UK chief executive Remo Gerber said: “We’ve been in London for three years. Demand for the app elsewhere in the UK has always been there and we’ve decided now is the right time to expand into these new cities. Our corporate accounts need national taxi solutions and we want to enable these. The B2B market will continue to offer opportunities for large players.”
Unlike Uber, GetTaxi is looked upon favourably by those in the industry as it attempting to ensure that their drivers don’t break any laws. Gerber said: “We’re working closely with regulators, UKTI and drivers to provide the safest and most reliable means to get around.”
Dominic Jermey, chief executive of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), said: “GetTaxi is a leading example of a technology company working closely with UK regulators to enhance the taxi service for the public. This is yet another example of the UK attracting the best, most innovative businesses from around the world.”
Even though it’s unlikely that black cab drivers will be able to stem the amount of taxi Apps entering the market, they can support those that not only adhere to the law but also could potentially improve their businesses. Change is never easy regardless of the sector you work in, however there are ways in which taxi drivers can use this change to their advantage.
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