Karhoo is the new challenger to Uber, offering a “marketplace” for existing minicab firms to compete for your lift. Announcing its expansion today in Parliament, a gathering of taxi firm operators, politicians, and even a GMB representative turned up to hear the British CEO Daniel Ishag talk-up the firm’s three to five minute wait time in central London. The GMB private hire drivers’ union is this week challenging Uber over workers’ pay in the Central London Tribunal. Acting as an aggregator for minicabs, Karhoo is seeking to get around all the difficult TfL regulations, letting cab firms sort it out for themselves. Karhoo handing out £25 gift cards for MPs in attendance doesn’t do them any harm, either…
The black cabbies’ union has launched a PR offensive to convince Londoners they are willing to modernise, vowing to spark “London’s taxi revolution” with super-fast wifi, credit card payments and ranks outside night tube stops. All sensible, consumer-friendly suggestions from the black cab industry, which needs to innovate to keep up with the competition.
Unfortunate then that a group of cabbies are also crowdfunding legal action against new TfL rules to install credit card machines in their cars. Despite the fact that there is huge public demand for this service, Action For Cabbies is asking for £300,000 to challenge TfL over the machines in court. Publicly they want to look like modernisers, less publicly they’re challenging the very same modernisations they claim to support. Why could they possibly be so keen to make sure they’re only paid in cash?
Meanwhile leaked emails show the United Cabbies Group is setting up a clandestine attack unit to do in TfL and Uber:
“we can assure you that the team we have chosen have a track record. They work under the radar and do not make a “song and dance” they are very low key but very effective. TfL and Uber won’t see these people coming. Of course they will know that something is happening but they will be on the back foot as to the tactics because they won’t know who we are using and hence what their modus operandi are. We have already paid for a team of investigators to start the background work.”
Not that “under the radar”, it turns out…
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…
The anti-progress Licensed Taxi Drivers Association are really angry about the Leytonstone stabbing… because it seems the knifeman may have once been an Uber driver:
— LCDC (@The_LCDC) December 7, 2015
— BassCabMan (@BassCabMan) December 7, 2015
Who knew cabbies had such advanced Photoshop skills?
UPDATE: The LTDA probably shouldn’t be so pious: