Whether you’re partial to searching for the nearest Uber or prefer to simply hail a cab, getting around London often calls for the assistance of a taxi.
Which is why the launch of a new transport app in London claiming to be cheaper than Uber and handing its drivers a bigger share of the profits sounds too good to be true.
With 3,000 private-hire taxis on board – which have reportedly all been vetted to meet the capital’s licensing requirements – Taxify aims to “always” cost less than its rival.
“We will always be cheaper than Uber,” company founder and Chief Executive Markus Villig told Reuters.
Founded by 23-year-old Villig, the Estonian start-up has already found success in central and Eastern Europe and Africa, and now hopes to do the same in London, and possibly Paris.
The company says running on a lower-cost business model (no further details have been revealed) means passengers pay marked-down fares, with drivers receiving a bigger share of the profits. It has vowed to take 15% commission on trips booked through the app, versus the 20-25% Uber charges in London – an issue which led around 300 drivers to protest the company in London in 2015.
And the firm will give a 50% discount on fares during September to get people downloading its app, reports Business Insider.
After comparing the exact same journey across both apps, Business Insider found Taxify to be “almost three times cheaper than Uber”. They found that taking a journey from Aldgate East to Angel station would cost around £4.35 on Taxify. In comparison, Uber estimated that the same journey would cost £16. However, the publication did note that Uber was showing surge pricing at the time, meaning it was more expensive than usual.
Unlike Uber, the company will accept cash as well as electronic payments.
Uber has 40,000 drivers and three million London users who take a million trips per week, according to Reuters. Taxify will also face competition from other taxi services such as Addison Lee, Gett, Hailo and traditional black cabs.
“Ride-sharing has been monopolised by Uber,” Villig said. “Now it is getting clear that in most markets there will be major competitors.”
An Uber spokesman said the firm welcomed the competition, "as it raises service levels across the board."
The arrival of the app in London has come at a time when Uber has faced a high-profile sexual harassment claim.
In March earlier this year Amit Singhal, Uber’s (previous) head of engineering, was asked to hand in his resignation, after the taxi app company discovered that he had failed to disclose a serious sexual harassment claim made against him in his previous job.
Shortly after CEO Travis Kalanick learned that Singhal had left his former role at Google after a female employee accused him of harassment he quickly decided that the engineering executive’s position was untenable.
And this may have been down to the actions of Susan J. Fowler. Until December 2016, Fowler was a site reliability engineer (SRE) at Uber. On 19 February 2017, Fowler posted an entry on her blog titled ‘Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber’. In painstaking detail, Fowler describes how she was sexually propositioned by a male manager at Uber HQ; how she was repeatedly undermined, obstructed and lied to by the company’s HR department when she attempted to report said manager; how she was prevented from progressing in the company as a consequence of her ‘difficult’ attitude; and how several of her female colleagues experienced exactly the same thing.
After her online tweets and blog garnered a lot of attention, even prompting the hashtag #DeleteUber to trend, the company recruited President Obama’s former attorney general, Eric Holder, to investigate Fowler’s claims, and Singhal was dismissed.
The company was also under fire earlier this year when former CEO, Travis Kalanick, joined President Trump’s economic advisory council, and 200,000 people deleted their Uber apps after they believed the company had unfairly profited from a taxi strike at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in protest at Trump’s immigration ban.
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