Business

Uber launches taxi-friendly service to mollify protesting London cabbies

Image Credit: Uber

Thousands of cab drivers headed toward London’s Trafalgar Square today to protest Uber and other mobile ride-hailing companies, whose largely unregulated services compete with one of the world’s most heavily regulated industries.

But Uber is trying to capitalize on the situation by launching a tempting offering for angry taxi drivers this morning: UberTaxi.

The new ride option enables folks to hail and pay for a black cab through the Uber app. The pricing structure adheres to standard three-tier fare rates established by the Transport for London agency. Riders won’t pay any additional charges, while Uber caps the commission drivers must pay at 5%.

While brand new to London, the UberTaxi offering is already available in Washington D.C., New York City, Honolulu, and Sydney.

It’s unclear if the new London offering will placate the protesting cab drivers, but it’s undoubtedly a blow to Hailo, which also enables folks to hail licensed cabs through its app. Uber says its 5% commission is the lowest in the city.

Uber expects initial UberTaxi availability to be “very limited” due to high demand. The protests may help with that: Uber app downloads in the region are up 850% compared to last Wednesday, according to Uber’s Jo Bertram, general manager for U.K. and Ireland.

The protests are causing major gridlock in central London. Some observers are estimating as much as £125 million in lost revenue as a result of the traffic.

ITV News captured this footage of a long line of black taxis blocking Westminster Bridge.

London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, is sympathetic to the concerns of the taxi drivers.

“There must … be a place for new technology to work in harmony with the black cab, and we shouldn’t unnecessarily restrict new ideas that are of genuine benefit to Londoners,” he said. “Even so, the recent emergence of a range of new apps has raised some important questions in relation to the operation of the private hire and taxi trades.”

Uber has faced some regulatory challenges — it’s currently battling more than a dozen lawsuits — but that hasn’t stopped the transportation company from attaining a record-breaking $17 billion valuation after its recent $1.2 billion funding round.

More information:

Uber Technologies Inc is known as Everyone's Private Driver. Uber operates an on-demand car service used all over the world. With the touch of a button from your phone, you can experience your own private driver. Sign-up quickly, g... read more »

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6 comments
Justin La Plante
Justin La Plante

Uber already tried this in Chicago.  They convinced about 2000 of the cities 7000 cab drivers to use the UberTaxi app.  They lost about 20% of their regular daily and they get NONE of their tips.  I doubt London Taxi drivers will fall for this but just as fair warning, WATCH OUT.  Uber is and has always been a scam.  If you want a LEGAL and fraud free ride app that Taxis and indie drivers can use, check out RydeHub.

Mario Chaves
Mario Chaves

Uber taxi is nothing new. I have used it often in NYC.