Category Archives: Uber

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.

Meta Title: Taxi Industry News June 2017

Meta Description: Read the most important news stories from the taxi industry in our June taxi news roundup post.

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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 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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Meta Description: Read the most important news stories from the taxi industry in our April taxi news 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 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 – March 2016

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Summary: Gett plans to expand it's operations in London, Uber is denied the license to operate in Reading, and Middlesbrough Council pays out £700,000 to drivers; read all the latest UK taxi industry news from March 2016, courtesy of The Taxi Centre.

Meta Title: Taxi Industry News| March 2016

Meta Description: Read the latest taxi industry developments in The Taxi Centre's news roundup, and find out about the Gett's plans for expansion, the Reading Uber ban, and more.

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Taxi News - March 16

Gett Plans Radio Taxis Acquisition

During March, the black cab rideshare app Gett announced its intentions to acquire London’s Radio Taxis. If the deal is successful, Gett will be the operator of around 11,500 of London’s black cabs – roughly equivalent to around half of all licensed taxis in the city. The takeover, which is to be approved by shareholders, would also make Gett the biggest black cab company in the UK.

Radio Taxis was started back in 1953 as a cooperative company, using radios as the primary means of communication. The company switched over to satellite navigation technology in the 90’s, and more recently has developed its own rideshare style app. As Radio Taxis is currently owned by the Mountview House group, if bought by Gett the deal would also mean the acquisition of two more black cab groups; Xeta and One Transport.

Speaking about the plans, Gett said “Radio Taxis has a long, proud history and we are delighted to bring such a great business into the Gett family. In the short term, Gett will still be Gett and The Mountview House Group will still operate Radio Taxis and their other brands. Longer term, we will look for ways to work more closely together as a single business”. Mountview House CEO Geoffrey Riesel commented that “Our board unanimously supports the deal. The future of the business as well as that of our drivers and clients is well served by becoming part of this exciting high tech brand”.

Middlesbrough Council Set to Refund Drivers £700,000

Following an error that led to drivers being overcharged for licenses over a four year period, Middlesbrough Council set to pay out almost £700,000 to drivers and companies affected.

The refunds follow an investigation by a Local Government Ombudsman, which identified overcharging on licensing fees between 2012 and 2016. The error stems from the council’s system of increasing the fees payable by private hire operators in order to offset and subsidise those payable by drivers. Although designed to support drivers of limited means, a spokesperson for the local authority stated that upon review this system “could not be legally justified”.

Following the Ombudsman’s decision, Middlesbrough council has now set out a new fee structure in order to resolve the issue. In addition, almost £700,000 will be paid to drivers and private hire operators as a refund for the error.

Uber Denied License to Operate in Reading

Global rideshare app Uber has been denied permission to operate in Reading following a review by the local authority.

Before the decision, Uber General Manager Thomas Elvidge stated that the company was “excited about coming to Reading”, and believed that there was a demand for the service to operate in the city. However, in contrast Reading council said that they could identify no real demand for Uber within the region, despite claims that around 20,000 users had accessed the app within the city in recent months.

According to Reading councillors, Uber failed to prove that it would be able to follow guidelines set out by the council. This includes the requirement of having an operational office within the region, which council representatives would be able to visit in the event of problems or complaints from customers. Other contributions to the refusal included the “notorious traffic” in the city, which was said could influence Uber’s surge pricing to be activated, and the thought that drunken passengers may be subject to overcharging due to the companies no cash operation.

A spokesperson for Uber said that they were “disappointed and surprised” by the decision.

Thinking of getting a new taxi? Take a look at the taxis for sale we have at The Taxi Centre.

Author: Tom

Title: Are Robot Taxis The Future?

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Summary: Just 20 years ago, in car entertainment and electric windows were the pinnacle of consumer auto technology. However, today much of the work going on behind the scenes of the major vehicle manufacturers is more comparable to something straight out of a sci-fi film.

Meta Title: Are Robot Taxis The Future | Robot Cars

Meta Description: A Japanese taxi company has challenged itself to get a fleet of driverless taxi's on the streets by 2020. Could driverless cars really be the future of the taxi industry?

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Are Robot Taxis the Future

Just 20 years ago, in car entertainment and electric windows were the pinnacle of consumer auto technology. However, today much of the work going on behind the scenes of the major vehicle manufacturers is more comparable to something straight out of a sci-fi film.

We’re talking of course about the emerging autonomous vehicle market – or, in layman’s terms, self-driving cars. In the past few years, it seems like the auto industry has been moving closer and closer to bringing out vehicles that edge drivers out of the picture, with everyone from Ford to Google trialling self-driving vehicles.

So far, the majority of talk around the development of self-driving cars has fallen within the consumer area, with most concern looking towards what a market filled with driverless vehicles would mean for the everyday driver. However, as self-driving technology moves closer towards reality, some have looked towards what autonomous “robot” vehicles could mean for public transport, and in particular, the taxi industry.

Most recently, a Japanese company calling itself “Robot Taxi” has set itself the challenge of getting a fleet of self-driving taxis on the streets by the 2020 Olympics. The company says it aims to provide a “revolutionary and affordable transportation alternative” to current taxis, and looks to work with the government and local authorities to make this a reality.

When looking at the wider picture – both in terms of the taxi industry, and self-driving tech – Robot Taxi’s goals seem quite optimistic for a couple of reasons. Firstly, very few of the current leaders in self-driving technology estimate that they’ll have a fully autonomous car for sale by 2020. Whilst Ford, Tesla, Google, and more have estimated they’ll have partly autonomous vehicles for sale by 2020, the closest is perhaps Jaguar, who plotted out 2024 as the year they’ll release a car requiring zero human input. Secondly, Japan’s cities are some of the best served by taxis in the developed world, with Tokyo having around four times as many private hire vehicles on the streets as New York. With an uncertainty that the necessary technology will be ready, a thriving industry to compete with, not to mention a shady legal status to contend with, the chances of robots completely replacing humans by 2020 seem fairly slim.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that driverless taxis don’t stand a chance. Perhaps more feasibly, Robot Taxi has suggested that one of the main functions of its self-driving fleet could be to provide a “more convenient transportation option to non-drivers and those who have limited access to public transport”. A promotional video released by the company gives the example of people living in rural settlements, who due to public transport limitations no longer have an effective system of buses and taxis to rely on.

It’s perhaps these rural areas that would benefit most from driverless vehicles, and also be more open to the new technology. For the established taxi industry, isolated or rural areas present less of a business opportunity when compared to larger settlements. In these locations, demand is likely to be smaller, less frequent, and more sporadic than in the city, meaning that drivers who could serve these areas may in fact migrate to more built-up areas to work, leaving a gap for a driverless fleet to fill. As well as this, it’s highly unlikely that any government would allow self-driving vehicles to be released into heavily populated cities immediately. However, less populous rural areas present a lower risk environment for driverless taxis to be tested and trialled, and as such it would make sense for them to be initially rolled out in these areas.

With all this in mind, a future with “robot taxis” could be more complex than you might initially assume. Rather than representing a threat to a hundreds of years old profession, self-driving taxis could instead work in tandem to the established industry. Whereas traditional manned vehicles would carry on their trade in cities and urban hubs, driverless vehicles would realise their potential as service providers in areas where the established industry doesn’t operate. In essence, taxi drivers needn’t worry about losing their job to a robot any time soon.

You can’t buy a driverless taxi just yet, so why not do the next best thing and look at the taxis for sale we have online today

Author: Tom

Title: Everything You Need to Know About Uber

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Summary: Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock, it’s likely you’ll have heard the word “Uber” slipping into casual conversation over the past few months. From London to Leeds and now Newcastle, we’ve seen Uber spread rapidly throughout the UK in the past few months, something dubbed in the media as “Uberification”.

Meta Title: What Is Uber Taxi

Meta Description: Check out everything you need to know about Uber from The Taxi Centre. Please contact the team if you need additional information.

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Ordering an Uber taxi

Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock, it’s likely you’ll have heard the word “Uber” slipping into casual conversation over the past few months. From London to Leeds and now Newcastle, we’ve seen Uber spread rapidly throughout the UK in the past few months, something dubbed in the media as “Uberification”.

Uber has sparked both praise and protests, has polarised the general public, has been the subject of government investigations, and in some countries has even been banned altogether. If you’ve just been thinking that your friends or colleagues have been brushing up on their German, it might be time to read our guide to everything you need to know about Uber.

What is Uber?

Uber is a “ride share” service, a mobile app that allows users to book a taxi with the push of a few buttons. Founded in 2009 after friends Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp spent an evening struggling to get a cab in Paris, the service has spread worldwide from its home base of San Francisco.

With Uber, a user’s location is determined through GPS, allowing drivers nearby to be seen on a real-time map. Once users select a free driver, the driver is notified of the user’s location. In some locations, users may be able to select a specific type of car to pick them up. A price estimate is given, and there’s no hard cash involved; all rides are paid via a credit or debit card previously connected to a person’s account.

How is an Uber different to a taxi?

At its core, getting a ride in an Uber is pretty similar to getting a ride in a regular Taxi; a destination is set, you’re driven to the destination, and then money exchanges hands. Sure, the way this is done might be slightly different to the traditional model, but it’s not that far removed; many taxi companies now have their own apps, offer card payment, and price estimates are nothing new.

However, there are a number of fundamentals that set Uber apart from the traditional taxi company model. For example, Uber’s drivers technically aren’t Uber’s drivers – they’re self-employed – and the company owns zero cars. This is because the company views itself as a crowd sourcing service, meaning that drivers and their vehicles are merely sourced for work rather than employed. At the moment, drivers automatically pay Uber a 20% commission on any earnings they make.

Where can I get an Uber?

At the time of writing, you’ll only be able to find an Uber in 6 of cities around the UK and Ireland; Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, and Dublin. They have a much larger presence around the world, especially in the U.S, where the service was founded.

Certain U.S states, cities worldwide, and a handful of countries have placed restrictions on Uber. Some countries, like Spain, Brazil and China have banned the company from operating altogether, making the Uber app illegal to download, and fining drivers found to be operating in their name.

The legality of Uber is also currently being assessed in a number of countries, with decisions set to be made on whether drivers would be breaking laws by offering services on behalf of the company. However, Uber still operates in some countries despite their operations being declared unlawful, with the Netherlands and India being two notable examples.

 Why is Uber controversial in the UK?

It’s safe to say that Uber’s worldwide expansion has been met with a mixed reaction, for a number of reasons.

Passenger safety

Many people are concerned with the safety of the company, as so long as a person has a car they’re eligible to register as a driver. However, in the UK drivers must conform to city council legislations, meaning that before registering they’ll need to pass a DBS check.

Lack of regulation

Concern has come from the established taxi industry, with drivers of council regulated and private hire concerns launching protests and strikes at the announcement of Uber’s spread to the UK. Many have concerns over Uber’s “crowd sourced” business model and apparent lack of regulation, viewing Uber as operating separate to established laws and codes of conduct governing taxi drivers. Most councils in the UK have countered these claims by stating that in order for Uber to operate it has to abide by current legislation; for example, all vehicles operating on behalf of Uber here need to be licensed, whereas in some countries they do not.

Meters/Fare Estimate

Perhaps the most widely reported disagreement with Uber occurred after the company announced its expansion to London in September 2014. Registered black cab drivers took to the streets to protest, causing controversy and widespread traffic disruption. The main concerns of the protestors came from Uber’s fare estimate service, and the fact that rides are priced based on distance and time – something that drivers equated to a meter in a black cab. As in London its only legal for black cabs to operate with meters, drivers believed that the company was acting illegally. However, Transport for London disagreed, stating that Uber was doing nothing to break the law.

Payment Problems

Many users have also faced problems with Uber’s payment system. Cases of passengers being charged too much, and drivers purposefully overcharging by thousands and then unregistering from the company have been reported. As Uber doesn’t employ its drivers, they claim no responsibility for cases of overcharging or fraud, limiting how those affected can seek resolution or compensation.

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Whatever you think of Uber, it’s safe to say the company’s introduction to Britain has already altered the face of taxi operations in the UK. Whether you’re thinking of putting together a fleet and competing against the service, or getting your own taxi and hitting the streets as a self-employed driver, you’ll find everything you need at The Taxi Centre. Why not get in touch today, and we’ll be happy to help you out with your decision.

Author: Tom