Taxi News Roundup - March 2016
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.
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