The rise in app based taxis, car sharing and London’s unlicensed minicabs and rickshaws has driven many cabbies to despair. Their businesses are suffering because of the newer and sometimes more convenient app based services.
In June, 5,000 black cab drivers took to London and blockaded the city streets in protest against the new trend and many cities and taxi drivers the world over are angry with the situation.
The debate between the services was even brought to attention by American animated comedy, South Park, who classically lampooned the debate in their uniquely crude way.
The main business riling the cab drivers up is Uber, a taxi service, which you can hail, pay for and tip with your smartphone. The general secretary of The London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) called them ‘a massive American monster that uses its financial muscle and army of lawyers to threaten, cajole and kowtow licensing authorities and regulators’.
The app has its conveniences. Licensed drivers, a range of sizes and vehicle qualities, and at the end of the night when all your cash is spent you can pay on your phone and split the bill evenly with your mates.
The app’s negatives are also very clear, their screening of drivers is inadequate. The world over there have been attacks, sexual harassment and assault from Uber drivers, some of whom have had a cluttered criminal past, and in some cases their drivers have no knowledge of the city they operate in.
The Knowledge of London
To get your green badge license that allows London Taxi Drivers to drive around the whole of Greater London they must pass a medical, pass an enhanced criminal records check, and learn ‘The Knowledge of London’. The Knowledge of London test ensures LTD drivers have an intimate knowledge of London’s streets and traffic, something that a satellite navigation system cannot offer. It is known as the world’s most intensive taxi driving course and often takes around 12 attempts to pass the final test and nearly three years of preparation.
It is understandable why LTD drivers are upset. Their hard work and investiture in their business will be for nothing if Uber takes over. That being said, their should be a way that LTD and an app based service can work together.
Hailo is an app co founded by internet entrepreneurs and taxi drivers with over 50 years of experience between them. They work only with licensed black cabs, allowing drivers to find a fair should they need the business, they have a cancellation system in place, which charges users small fee if they cancel after a certain period of time, and it works in a similar simple vane as Uber, you hail, you pay and you tip with your phone.
So it is possible for fully licensed drivers to get along with the age of the app. It would be a truly dreadful day if the hard work and effort that cabbies put into their business were to end. Hopefully that day never has to come, and that new apps like Hailo can be developed that work alongside drivers rather than trying to muscle them out.
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