Taxi News Roundup - June 2016
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.
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.