Uber have offered black cab drivers the chance to use the ride sharing app for no fee for the first twelve months. It’s a move unlikely to placate all the irate cabbies, 5,000 of which plan to protest in the capital on Wednesday over the deregulation of the industry. But could this “olive branch” actually be part of an attempt to kill off the black cab apps Hailo and Gett?
The most telling part of the press release states:
While both black cab and licensed Uber drivers go through exactly the same background checks, taxi drivers have additional hoops they have to jump through. The Knowledge, for instance, is rightly legendary. But it means memorising 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks – a skill that can take up to four years to master.
In the age of GPS and live traffic apps, is such an onerous test still needed? Could a modern version of The Knowledge that took advantage of new technology and only took a year to complete be just as effective? And when a black cab typically costs more than £40,000 to buy and thousands a year to run, shouldn’t taxi drivers be given a broader choice of cars, including green and hybrid vehicles?
Somehow Guido doesn’t think that Uber suggesting abolishing the knowledge is about altruistically helping out the cabbies and leveling the competitive playing field. It looks like bringing Black cabs onto the app is more an attempt to standardise the qualifications required for Uber drivers and cabbies, and destroy Hailo and Gett in the process. We wait to see how many cabbies will be tempted…