Category Archives: Taxi News

Title: Taxi News Roundup June 2017

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Summary: Take a look at our roundup of June's most important taxi news stories.

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Taxi News June 2017UberPop Pulls Out of Finland

Uber’s troubles in Europe continued in June, with the company announcing the withdrawal of its UberPop service from Finland. The withdrawal is only expected to be temporary, with Uber stating the services have been suspended whilst it waits for a law that will deregulate the countries taxi industry to be passed.

Joel Järvinen, manager of Uber’s Finland operation, stated: “While we are looking forward to the reforms coming into effect, we have decided it is best to pause UberPop from 15 August until the new regulations allow a better environment”

“We want to ensure that we do not pose drivers who use our app or our employees any unnecessary issues, especially now that we have a bright future to look forward to. We believe that the best way to do so and focus on the future is to pause UberPop and relaunch in the summer of 2018.”

UberPop, which allows drivers to operate without needing a taxi license, has been the root of many of Uber’s recent problems in Europe. In 2015 Uber was forced to withdraw from Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt due to licensing issues, and UberPop has been banned since launch in Paris, Berlin and Brussels. In addition, UberPop has never been offered in the UK due to strict regulations around unlicensed taxi operations, with the company instead offering their licensed Uber X service.

Yorkshire Drivers Tackle Emissions

“Good progress” is being made to tackle air pollution by private hire and minicab drivers, according to the region’s Transport Committee.

An increased uptake in hybrid and electric vehicles by taxi drivers is set to significantly aid improvements to air quality in the area, with emissions set to be significantly lowered by 2020.

Councillor Keith Wakefield said that “around 500 diesel taxis and private hire vehicles are expected to be hybrid or pure electric versions by 2020”. This is partly due to increased investment in sustainable travel in the region, with a government grant expected to create funding for 88 new taxi and private hire charging points around Leeds alone. According to Wakefield, by 2020 this investment “could improve Nitrogen Dioxide emissions by as much as 18%”.

UK to See Public Driverless Taxi Trials

The UK is set to see a glimpse of the future later this year, with a fleet of brand new driverless cars set to take to the streets of Greenwich. The news marks the first public trials of driverless vehicles in the UK, with previous tests requiring passengers to register in advance.

The vehicles are set to run a circuit on a 2km strip of road in Greenwich, with prospective passengers able to hop in and out at four dedicated stopping points along the route. Cars will be able to ferry up to five passengers at a time, who will be accompanied by an on-board “safety warden” able of taking control of the vehicle should it need to make an emergency stop. However, as the vehicles are limited to a maximum speed of 15 miles an hour, there’s very little risk of any serious incident taking place.

It’s expected that demand for the vehicles will be high, with transport consultancy TRL expecting each vehicle to transport hundreds of people a day over the four week trial period. The trial comes as part of the UK funded “Gateway” project, which is using Greenwich as a testing hub for autonomous vehicles.

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup May 2017

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Summary: Read the most important news stories from the taxi industry in our May taxi news roundup post.

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Taxi News May 2017

UK Drivers Protest Working Conditions

Late may saw drivers in a number of regions staging protests and threating strike action, with most looking to raise awareness of what they consider to be increasingly difficult working conditions.

Drivers in Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff, York, Brighton, Oldham and London all took part in demonstrations to protest the oversaturation of vehicles in their areas. The protests were in part organised by the GMB union, which claims that a lack of stringency amongst local authorities has led to new licenses being handed out “like sweeties”.

GMB states that many areas are now so saturated with vehicles that drivers have to work longer hours to earn a decent wage. In addition, some drivers say that they have resorted to looking for work in areas they are not licensed.

Regarding the demonstrations, Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for the Taxi and Professional Drivers Trades, said: “The vast majority of drivers in the trades of both taxi and minicabs are professional drivers, and operate strictly in accordance with their licensing requirements.”

“However because of the huge surge in licences being issued there is now over capacity, where drivers are being encouraged by their operators to work hundreds of miles from where they are licensed. Unfortunately the government does not recognise there is a problem, which in the main is of their making.”

The union is now campaigning for changes to be to protect drivers, which include legislative amendments designed to protect local drivers, prevent out of town working, and halt illegal touting, alongside proposals for a national database for operators, drivers, and enforcement officers.

Uber Faces Uncertain Future in Europe

2017 hasn’t been a great year for Uber in Europe. In March the company was forced to cease activity in Denmark, following a change in legislation that effectively made it illegal for them to operate in the country. Then Italy followed suit, banning Uber altogether following a complaint from the country’s taxi unions.

In May the rideshare company’s future in Europe became even shakier, with a European Court of Justice advocate arguing that the company is a transport – not internet – company. Maciej Szpunar argues that as Uber’s services are “undoubtedly transport”, it “cannot be regarded as a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers”. Szpunar as such says that the court should re-evaluate Uber’s financial status. Although not a binding decision, if followed through by the court Uber could face far tighter regulations on the continent.

Uber’s self-identification as a digital service has meant that to date, the company has been able to operate and expand in Europe with relative ease. However, as transport companies are subject to more stringent laws than technology companies, a decision in support of the advocate could force Uber to comply with local legislation in all EU countries within which it operates.

London Moves Towards Greener Taxis

May saw the capitals taxi industry move towards a greener future, with the announcement that an LPG powered black cab would undergo a final round of assessment from Transport for London. The cab – created by Autogas – will undergo a 10,000 mile technology assessment to recreate the day to day activity of a typical London taxi, with TfL looking to consider whether the vehicle is suitable for general use.

With air quality in London coming under increasing scrutiny, TfL are looking for alternatives to the diesel vehicles the black cab trade operates on. LPG – or liquid petroleum gas – is viewed by many as an affordable and viable alternative to traditional fuel, and has already been introduced to the black cab trade in other cities in the UK, most notably Birmingham.

Speaking about the plans, Autogas’ business development manager Paul Oxford said: “London, like many other cities and towns across the UK, has a major air quality problem, largely as a result of NOx emissions and particulate matter from diesel vehicles.””Giving taxi drivers an immediate and viable opportunity to switch to a fuel source that is much cleaner than diesel will not only help improve local air quality, but it will also extend the usable life of their cab for another five years and save them around £200 a month in fuel costs, so it really is a win-win situation for everyone.”

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup April 2017

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Summary: Take a look at the latest taxi industry news in our April roundup post.

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Taxi News - April 2017

Drivers in South Lanarkshire Threaten Strike Action

Earlier in April we reported that drivers in the South Lanarkshire towns of Rutherglen and Cambuslang had threatened strike action, in protest over increasingly tough working conditions in the area. Drivers were concerned with what they view as an over-saturation of the number of taxis operating in the region, which they say is severely affecting their ability to earn a decent wage on a day to day basis.

South Lanarkshire granted 142 licenses to new drivers in 2016 alone, with the increase in new drivers on the road not corresponding with an increase in business. One driver in the area, Charles Spiers, said . “I know of drivers having to work twenty-four hours over a Friday and Saturday, just to pay the mortgage. Older drivers in particular are pushing themselves too hard. You have the same amount of jobs, but twice the amount of drivers”.

In response to the treat of strike action, Geraldine McCann, a representative for South Lanarkshire Council said that the law “does not currently permit the limiting of private hire cars”. However, McCann also mentioned the introduction of a new provision that would give local authorities the ability to limit and refuse to hand out private hire licenses, which is due to come into force during 2017.

Cabbies Protest Evening Standard Offices

Back in March, London’s Evening Standard newspaper announced that former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was to become its new editor. It turns out that some weren’t too happy with the announcement, with London’s licensed taxi trade in particular finding issue.

In late April, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) announced that they were to protest outside the Evening Standard’s offices, over fears that Osborne’s appointment could lead to the paper losing its status as an independent “voice of London”. The LTDA cited recent allegations that suggest the former chancellor lobbied on behalf of ride-share company Uber during his time in office. The LTDA’s general secretary Steve McNamara also alleged that Osborne’s involvement with the firm BlackRock placed him as an indirect backer of Uber, stating that BlackRock had “invested millions of pounds in Uber – a £50bn company that paid just £400,000 in tax in the UK last year”.

Like drivers in South Lanarkshire, London drivers are operating in an increasingly saturated market, and as such the LTDA has had a longstanding issue with Uber. They view Osborne’s appointment to the Standard as something that could lead to a “lack of transparency” at the paper, and something that could potentially lead to editorials that favour the viewpoint of Uber over the LTDA. Whichever side of the argument you fall on, it’s safe to say that the discussion around Uber in the UK isn’t set to subside any time soon.

Mercedes on Track to Develop Self-Driving Taxis

The world of driverless taxis may not be too far off, as Mercedes and Bosch have announced they are set to work together to produce a market-leading “robo taxi”.

At the moment there isn’t too much of a market to lead in; as far as we’re able to tell, no company is successfully operating a driverless taxi service anywhere in the world. However, in terms of developing driverless taxis the market is saturated, with US rideshare giant Uber and China based taxi platform Didi Dache both independently working on such a service.

Mercedes’ parent group Daimler initially started development of a driverless vehicle alone, employing a team of around 500 engineers looking into hardware, software, and automotive development. However, the partnership with Bosch allows the two companies to ramp up their work, stating that they should have an autonomous vehicle ready by the beginning of the next decade.

For any drivers reading this worried that your job may be in peril within the next 3 years, don’t be too concerned. It’s highly unlikely that driverless cars will be made legal within such a short time-frame, and putting together such a landmark piece of legislation is likely to be a time consuming and lengthy task. Plus, with driverless vehicles currently making headlines for getting into scrapes and crashes around the globe, it’s unlikely that the public will be so quick to accept a ride from a taxi with no driver.

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup March 2017

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Summary: Read the biggest news stories from the taxi industry in our March news roundup post.

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Uber Withdraws from Denmark after Legal Face-Off with Danish Government

Uber, the company behind the widely-used but controversial ride-share app of the same name, are set to end all of their operations in Denmark, after the introduction of new Danish law that requires all hire cars to have seat occupancy sensors and fare meters, which many Uber drivers’ cars will not be able to meet.

An Uber spokesperson, speaking after news broke of the law’s implementation, said: “For us to operate in Denmark again, the proposed regulations need to change. We will continue to work with the government in the hope that they will update their proposed regulations and enable Danes to enjoy the benefits of modern technologies like Uber.”

The San Francisco based company have met legal problems not just in Denmark but across the world. Keep checking the Taxi Centre blog for more Uber updates.

UK Government Takes a Harsher Stand Against Drivers on the Phone

The UK government has increased the penalty of being found using a phone behind the wheel of a moving vehicle to a £200 fine and six points against your license.

New drivers who receive six points will be required to retake both the practical and theory exam, while more experienced drivers will be banned if docked for any amount above twelve points. Drivers caught on the phone previously were able to avoid the points penalty by going on an educational course, but the law change has simultaneously removed this as an option.

It’s been illegal to use a phone behind the wheel since the 1st of March, 2003, which doesn’t just apply to talking and texting; using apps like Google Apps, for instance, is also against the law. The only circumstances in which you’re allowed to be on the phone while in the driver’s seat are when you’re safely parked or it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.

RTPC chief inspector Colin Carswell said: “Using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving means a driver’s attention is distracted from the road. After speeding, it’s probably the most dangerous thing a driver can do – leading to people being killed and injured on our roads. You’re slower at recognising and reacting to hazards if you are driving and using a mobile.”

While hands-free options do allow you to speak on the phone whilst driving, you’re still liable for prosecution should your phone usage appear to compromise your ability to concentrate on the road!

Taxi Drivers Campaign Against Diesel

In a letter to the UK Government, various taxi organisations have pledged their support for the implementation of a national diesel scrappage scheme.

Air pollution is becoming more and more of a pressing concern across the UK’s cities. The letter requested that the UK government help drivers make the switch away from diesel cars to greener alternatives, of which there are now many, such as the Nissan Leaf which has become a green favourite among taxi drivers.

Despite the increasing pressure that’s being directed at the government, alongside the fact that over half of the British public statistically support diesel scrappage, the year’s budget made no mention of introducing such a scheme. However, a new “tax treatment for diesel vehicles” was suggested as something planned for 2017’s autumn budget.

The UK taxi industry has been pioneering in bringing environmentally friendly vehicles onto our cities’ roads. The environmental impact of these cars is complemented by their considerably lower running costs and superior fuel economy.

For more on low emission vehicles and the Nissan Leaf, check out last month’s news round-up!

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup February 2017

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Summary: Read some of February's most important news from the taxi industry in our monthly news post.

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Taxi News Roundup - Februrary 2017

The Taxi Centre Goes Electric

During February, The Taxi Centre took delivery of its first batch of 100% electric Nissan Leaf’s, one of the most popular EV’s in the taxi industry. Although initially taking a batch of 15 Leaf’s, it’s forecasted that over 100 sales of the EV will take place during 2017, with that number predicted to more than triple in 2018.

Allan McGinness, General Manager at The Taxi Centre, said: “The LEAF has a proven track record in service with taxi operators large and small across the UK and can really help them achieve massive savings. We’ve been waiting for the right electric vehicle for the taxi industry and we’re convinced the LEAF is that vehicle.”

The buzz of electric vehicles is being felt across the world, with many leading automobile companies investing more in hybrid and electric technology to create environmentally friendly vehicles. Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in the taxi industry, where the combination of low running costs and emissions makes them ideal for drivers and firms looking to save money.

Drivers Take Things Slow in Protest

Taxi drivers around the world are adopting new tactics to protest against legislation that supposedly hinders the services of local taxi companies. More and more drivers are taking part in organised “slow drives”, designed to disrupt traffic and draw attention to their concerns.

The past month has seen drivers from Melbourne to Hull taking part in slow drives, with further protests set to take place during March. Although the exact reasons for the protests differ from location to location, many have been organised to draw attention to new licensing legislation that favours rideshare companies like Uber over local firms.

In Melbourne, drivers are protesting the mooted deregulation of the city’s taxi industry, which allegedly favours rideshare services and could mean drivers shelling out up to $500,000 to obtain a new license. Meanwhile in Sheffield, drivers are opposing a Government act which locals claim has resulted in a “wild west” working environment, with drivers from as far away as London operating in the city.

Manchester United Partner with Uber

Football club Manchester United has announced a partnership with rideshare app Uber. The deal will place a dedicated Uber drop off and pick-up zone at the club’s Old Trafford stadium, and will also allow fans and users of the app to access exclusive behind-the-scenes club content.

In a press release, a representative of the club commented that the partnership will provide a “convenient and safe way for all fans to travel to and from games, with just a few taps of their smartphone.” In addition, United’s group managing director stated that “Manchester United is always looking at ways in which we can improve our fans’ experience and our relationship with Uber will allow us to do this in new and exciting ways.”

The partnership has received a mixed response among drivers and fans alike, with some fans speaking out against Uber based on past negative press the company has received. Meanwhile, some drivers in the city are sceptical about the success of the scheme. One driver stated that “With all the congestion around the ground on match days, it could be difficult for drivers. They might have to wait for a while before the end of the game if they had a booking. I think the fans will just carry on with how they get home.”

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup January 2017

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Summary: Read some of January's most important industry news in our monthly taxi news post.

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Taxi News Roundup - January 2017

Uber Trials Self Driving Taxis

Select groups of Uber users in the USA can now request to be picked up by a driverless vehicle. The service is being offered to app users in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and California, following on from a year and a half of intense testing.

Uber has been cautious to state that the service is still only in a trial stage, branding it as a “research exercise”. For safety (and testing) reasons, each vehicle is manned by at least one Uber engineer, who has the ability to switch from autonomous to manual mode and take control of the vehicle if needed.

Courts in California have already branded the self-driving vehicles a safety concern, after they were found to cut across cycle lanes rather than merge with them. In addition, California’s attorney general has warned Uber to withdraw its driverless fleet or face legal action; something that Uber has stated they won’t be complying with. However, the company did admit that “It’s still early days and our cars are not ready to drive without a person monitoring them”.

Uber is yet to comment on introducing driverless cars to the UK. However, driverless vehicles are being tested by other companies and manufacturers. Nissan recently announced that they will be trialling a driverless version of the LEAF in London from February, with Volvo also planning to carry out trials of their own autonomous vehicles in early 2017.

Karhoo Bought by Renault

Renault has announced the purchase of taxi-comparison service Karhoo, taking the app’s parent company out of administration. The app was purchased by Renault’s financial services division RCI Bank & Services, for an undisclosed fee estimated to be in the region of £13m.

Initially pitched as a direct competitor to Uber, Karhoo initially seemed to be set for success. At its height the firm employed around 200 members of staff in offices around the world, and at one point stated it had received $250m in funding from backers, although recent suggestions have placed this at closer to $30m. However, Karhoo ceased trading in November 2016 after only 6 months of business, leaving its employees and cab firms in the lurch.

RCI are now set to resurrect Karhoo -which will be incorporated under the new “Flit Technologies Ltd” venture – stating that it would help the company “design simple and attractive solutions” as part of its Renault-Nissan alliance brands.

The app is set to re-launch under the stewardship of new joint CEOs Boris Pilichowski and Nicolas Andine. In a statement, the pair said that “there is a need in ground transportation for someone to aggregate all the independents and allow them to compete, and we are determined to make sure Karhoo fills that need. Karhoo was amazingly successful in ferrying hundreds of thousands of people around the world but lacked a corporate backer, but with RCI Bank and Services, we now have that.”

Study Shows Black Cabs Faster Than Uber

Researchers from Lancaster University have pitted black cabs against Uber, in a bid to accurately compare the average cost and speed of the two services.

Over a period of 3 days the researchers took 29 different journeys from various locations around London. From a set location, one researcher used the Uber app to hail a taxi, whilst another hailed a traditional black cab and let the driver decide the route.

Their findings showed that on average, hailing a black cab was the faster option, with journeys conducted in around 88% of the time that it took the Uber driver. However, Uber was found to be the cheaper option, with black cabs being around 35% more expensive.

Anastasios Noulas, who led the research group, explained that “Uber drivers rely on navigation apps, but in dense parts of the city these can be slower than a black cab driver to react to traffic build up.”

The research group found that black cabs had a particular edge in the densest parts of the city, where the specialist knowledge of drivers provided especially useful in finding faster (but more complex) routes than Uber. They also noted that black cabs had the advantage of being able drive in bus lanes, and that drivers frequented side streets not generally recommended by navigation apps.

Author: Fusion Unlimited

Title: Taxi News Roundup June 2016

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Summary: Take a look our latest taxi industry news post, featuring a spotlight on safe working hours, Newcastle cabbies on strike, and a new rideshare app hoping to compete with Uber.

Meta Title: Taxi News | Uber News | June 2016

Meta Description: View the latest taxi news at The Taxi Centre, with all the latest developments from the taxi industry. Find out about Uber working hours, Karhoo, and Virgin permit charges.

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Man holding phone with taxi app

Uber defends “unsafe” 65 hour week comments

Uber has come under criticism for allegedly encouraging drivers to work 65-hour weeks on a page on its UK website. The now reworded page promised that drivers could turn their cars into “money machines” and earn up to £3360 a month Uber stated that this was based on “average net payments of partner drivers in London who have driven 55-65 hours [per week]”, despite the legal safe limit for lorry, bus, and taxi drivers being 56 hours a week.

In response to the criticism, an Uber spokesman stated that “Uber does not set shifts and drivers who partner with us can choose the hours they work”. They went on to say that drivers who worked “too many hours” would receive a message from the company advising about safe driving, although Uber did not state what “too many hours” constituted.

Newcastle drivers launch Virgin protest

Cabbies in Newcastle have launched an attack on Virgin, going so far as to hold a meeting to discuss the possibility of striking.

Drivers are unhappy with the £2030 annual cost introduced to use a short stay car park outside Newcastle Central Station, and say that they are being “exploited” by Virgin. However, Virgin has argued that the price reflects the “market value”, despite being higher than the cost of similar permits in Leicester, Preston, and Birmingham combined.

Speaking to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, RMT regional organiser Micky Thompson said that Newcastle drivers are “paying one of the highest permit prices in the country [  ]. We have been trying to negotiate and getting nowhere, it is ridiculous. We are paying that much for the use of ten spaces”.

A spokesperson for Virgin Trains said that the company is in discussion with drivers, and has contingency arrangements should drivers take the course of industrial action.

Karhoo

Taxi comparison app launches across UK         

The taxi fare comparison app Karhoo has rolled out across the UK, six weeks after its initial London launch.

Karhoo touts itself as a competitor to services like Uber and Hailo, and works in a similar fashion, with users able to view nearby vehicles on a map and order through an app. However, unlike these apps, Karhoo is “open platform”. That means that any company – including hackney and minicab services, and excluding Uber – can sign up and have their fleet listed inside the app.

The app works as a price comparison tool, allowing users to select the company offering the lowest price, a feature that Karhoo hope will give the service an advantage over its more established competitors. Other unique features include pre-booking (which is unavailable through Uber), and a lack of surge pricing.

Karhoo is currently undergoing a slow launch in the following cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, Stoke-On-Trent, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Birmingham, and Brighton.

Uber launches food delivery service

Uber has brought its food delivery service UberEats to London, in an act directly competing with Deliveroo. The Silicon Valley based firm has launched the service in Central London, allowing users to order food for delivery from restaurants within a given radius. Uber promises a delivery time of 30 minutes or less, or the next order will be free. The company says it has already signed up thousands of delivery drivers, who like it’s rideshare service will be employed on a purely freelance basis.

Last year rival rideshare service Gett launched similar “Gett Pizza” and “Gett Groceries” services, allowing users to order pizza and even shopping through its app. These services show a redefining of the taxi driver job spec, pointing to a future where the job encompasses a wider set of duties – although any drivers instructed on post pub drive through runs by customers may well be familiar with that future.

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup – May 2016

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Summary: Take a look at the latest taxi industry news in our May 2016 roundup. Read about Uber's new wheelchair service, laws that could mean charges for diesel drivers, and local legislation news from around the UK.

Meta Title: Taxi Industry News | Uber News | May 16

Meta Description: View the latest taxi industry news at The Taxi Centre, including plans for new diesel taxi charges, Uber's wheelchair vehicles, and all the latest taxi legislation information.

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Gett

Uber Launches Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Service              

Uber has recently announced that it is launching a fleet of 55 WAV taxis across London, allowing wheelchair users to guarantee wheelchair access at the push of a button. The option will be listed on the app as “Uberwav”, and will be fared at the same price point as the companies UberX vehicles, currently the lowest priced vehicles. Uber has launched the option in partnership with accessibility charities, including Scope, Whizz Kidz, and Transport for All, and says that it will invest £1m in the programme over its first 18 months.

Although Uberwav is only currently available in London, if successful the company is likely to expand the initiative across the UK. Uber has faced criticism in the past for having few provisions for wheelchair users, something that local councils have brought up when considering whether to grant the company a license.

UK Towns May Introduce Diesel Vehicle Fee

Drivers using diesel vehicles may soon face extra charges, after ministers announced plans to impose clean air zones throughout UK towns and cities. The plans aim to “cut the risk of cardiac, respiratory, and other diseases” by clamping down on air pollution from diesel vehicles. Last year the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee announced that Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham will all receive clean air zones by 2020. However, ministers have said that it’s likely that clean air zones will be extended into a far wider range of UK towns and cities.

The plans will particularly affect those driving old diesel taxis, who will face charges when driving in clean air zones. However, EFRA has also requested that the plans be implemented alongside a scrappage scheme to encourage drivers to trade in diesel vehicles for lower emission options.

Guide Dog Owners Seek Revised Taxi Laws

A charity is seeking tougher penalties for taxi drivers who refuse to carry guide dog owners, according to the Glasgow Evening Times. The Guide Dogs charity states that many drivers are refusing to take guide dogs, despite current laws stating that this is illegal. The charity states that tougher penalties would raise awareness of the laws, and is calling for wider disability training among drivers.

Speaking about the campaign, Guide Dog’s James White said that “[refusals happen] to people living with sight loss with shocking regularity just because they are accompanied by a guide dog. It’s not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted”.

Drivers who refuse business to passengers with guide dogs can currently face fines of up to £1000 under the Equality Act 2010. However, prosecutions are rare, and when fines are awarded they are often as low as £50.

Local Drivers Protest “Unfair” Knowledge Test

Drivers operating under Swale Borough Council have claimed that a mandatory knowledge test is “impossible to pass”, according to Private Hire and Taxi Monthly. Local firms have protested that the test – which all drivers in the region must pass before being handed a license – is outdated and confusing. The test allegedly makes reference to landmarks that have since closed down or been demolished, and makes ambiguous references to existing landmarks. Richard Kipling, owner of Starlite taxis, has stated that drivers with years of experience in the area have failed the test and been subsequently barred from operating for 6 months, at which point they have to take the test again. Kipling believes that rather than ensuring passenger safety as intended, the test is acting as a barrier to recruitment.

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi Survey 2016

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Summary: Have you ever wondered whether the price you’re paying for a ride home is “normal”? Whether your driver appreciates you whiling the miles away with chat about your cat, or if they’d prefer the strong silent type? If not leaving your driver a tip is fine, cos, well, nobody tips in taxis, do they? We have.

Meta Title: Taxi Survey 2016

Meta Description: Take a look at our 2016 Taxi Survey. Click through to read more about average taxi prices, how many people use uber, and whether to tip or not to tip.

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Have you ever wondered whether the price you’re paying for a ride home is “normal”? Whether your driver appreciates you whiling the miles away with chat about your cat, or if they’d prefer the strong silent type? If not leaving your driver a tip is fine, cos, well, nobody tips in taxis, do they?

To be honest, probably not. But here at The Taxi Centre, we have, and we’ve decided to get to the bottom of things. We’ve surveyed taxi passengers from Dorset to Durham, to find out how and what they ride, how much they pay for the pleasure, how happy they are about it, and how polite they are in the process. Take a look at the results of our survey below.

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We asked all respondents for to estimate the average fare they’d usually pay to travel one mile, including minimum fares. With those in the north and the midlands paying on average more than a quid less per mile, it’s safe (and perhaps not surprising) to say that a north south divide exists when it comes to taxi prices. Average prices down south were pushed up considerably by respondents from London, some of whom reported minimum fares of over £10!

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Next up we asked our passengers which type of taxi they used most often – private hire, hackney cab, or Uber.

Whilst you might have expected private hire services to come out on top, perhaps a bit more surprising is Uber – not yet available nationwide – coming in second place.

It’d be interesting to see how these stats would have fared up a couple of years ago before rideshare apps became so widely used. Would hackney cabs have had a wider share of the market, or would this gap have been closed by more people using private hire services?

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A deeper look shows that the further south you go, the more likely taxi passengers are to rely on Uber. Around 30% of southerners said they used Uber most often, compared to just 14.58% of those in the north.

Our older age range seemed more likely to use taxi apps too, with around 30% of 18-34 year olds using Uber most often compared to 19% of 34-54 year olds.

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Despite – or perhaps because of – the bigger market share the app has in southern cities, a definite north south divide exists when it comes to getting an Uber.

It might be an attempt to drum up interest, or maybe those famously thrifty Yorkshire folk are simply unwilling to pay any more, but at around £2.50 Leeds currently has the lowest base fare in the country. That’s a good half of the base price that Londoners have to pay, which might explain our next stat…frame05

We asked whether our passengers were happy with the price they usually pay for a cab, and the results we got pretty much mirror a pattern we’ve seen emerging. Unsurprisingly, where taxi prices are higher, passengers are least happy with the prices. Is it true that a quid really does go further in the north. Or, is it that the surge pricing typical of services like Uber is leaving those in the south less satisfied than Northerners?

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This might be a bit of a shocking stat for drivers, but 93% of those in the north said they usually provide a little something extra for their driver. And despite being the least satisfied with the fare, having to shell out most in the first place, and being more likely to use apps, 80% of southerners also said they provided a tip. Those in the Midlands were the least likely to say “keep the change”, but at 69% we’d still say they’re not exactly stingy.

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With 85% of northerners saying they usually talk to their driver compared to 81% in the midlands and 63% in the south, our survey seems to confirm two old clichés; the stuffy southerner, and the northerner who for better or worse will take up any opportunity wait to chew someone’s ear off.

Or, it could be that as 68% of northerners said they used local minicab services most often, those in the north might have simply got to know their drivers a bit better.

Our results also showed that the older spectrum of those surveyed are more likely to chat to their driver, with 81% of 34-54 year olds saying they usually initiate conversation compared to 68% of younger passengers. Women are also marginally less likely to spark up a chat, with only 67% saying they talk to their driver compared to 85% of men.

It’s also worth pointing that it’s hard to determine how many people are classing “been busy mate?” as a conversation.

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Our respondents agreed pretty unanimously on their preferred seats, with just over half of all preferring to ride in the back. The only exception appears to be men, who at 55% were the only group to slightly favour front seat riding.

Presumably, those riding up front are northerners looking to get into prime position to regale their life story.

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As an aside, we asked our passengers about the most memorable thing to ever happen to them in a taxi. Unsurprisingly, most of the stories were half remembered drunken escapades.

However, amongst the tears, vomit, and stuntman antics, were two good Samaritans, nobly handing in forgotten valuables. We will say that people who frequently pocket found goods are perhaps less likely to brag about it when asked, although before doing this survey we’d have said the same about people who are liable to fall out of moving vehicles when seat-belted in with the doors closed.

So, there we have it, a little snapshot of England’s taxi users in 2016; embracing of new technologies, thrifty, invariably chatty, and more likely to tip (or lie about it) than you might think.

Author: Fusion

Title: Taxi News Roundup – April 2016

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Summary: Take a look at the latest news from April 2016 in our taxi industry roundup.

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Meta Description: View Uber's latest expansion plans, new Transport for London regulations, and find out which city is getting driverless taxis in our taxi industry news.

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Taxi Industry News

Uber launches in Cardiff

After much rumour and speculation, last month finally saw Uber launch in Cardiff. The official launch took place on the 22nd of April, following on from a week of driver registrations. However, despite registrations taking place a week earlier, potential drivers were kept in the dark about the actual date the service would roll out, only being informed via text message before the day before the launch. Uber received its license to operate in Cardiff earlier this year, making the city Uber’s 18th operating location in the UK.

London cabs remove card fees

Passengers hailing a cab in London will soon no longer have to pay a premium for paying by card, after a Transport for London announced new regulations removing card fees.

Speaking on behalf of Transport for London, Chief Operating Officer Garrett Emmerson stated “We are pleased to be able to reduce the cost for taxi passengers paying by card, as people now use them in every aspect of their lives. The acceptance of these kinds of payments in all taxis from October will be a huge plus for Londoners, visitors, and drivers”.

To compensate drivers for the cost incurred from accepting card payments, TfL says that the cost of a minimum fare will rise by 20p to £2.60 when the regulations come into force this October.

Singapore set to launch fully autonomous taxi service 

Singapore is set to break world records, after a start-up producing “driverless” taxis was granted a license to trial its service in the city state. The announcement comes thanks to software company nuTonomy, who have collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create what is being hailed as one of the world’s first fully autonomous taxi vehicles. A small fleet of these vehicles was trialed in Singapore back in March, and after passing a “driving test” with no collisions nuTonomy was granted permission to apply for further testing in the city state’s One North district, which is specifically designated for autonomous vehicle testing.

Although further tests need to take place before a full license to operate is granted, nuTonomy’s CTO Emilio Frazzoli says he envisions the company operating a fleet of thousands in the city in the very near future.

Uber Manchester team up with Parklife festival

Organisers of Manchester’s Parklife have announced that this year’s event will see a partnership with Uber, in a bid to tackle unlicensed cab activity around the festival. Councillor Alan Quinn has stated that the plan will provide a safer option for festival goers looking to get home. Speaking to This Is Lancashire, Quinn stated that “We have had complaints in the past about private hire vehicles not going through the operator and picking up illegally. Parklife will be working with Uber Taxis, which is safer for revelers because no money changes hands.” Quinn also stated that police will be on site to monitor taxi activity, and ensure that any private hire vehicles around the site are operating under license.

Author: Fusion