Taxi News Roundup - February 2016
General Motors Partners with Lyft on Autonomous Vehicles
Last month General Motors announced that they had entered into a new partnership with rideshare service Lyft, in order to work together on researching driverless vehicle technology.
General Motors - the parent company of 13 global vehicle manufacturers, including Vauxhall, Cadillac, and Buick - stated that the partnership involves pledging around $500m to taxi service Lyft, and guarantees seat for the company on Lyft's board of directors. A spokesperson for Lyft commented that the partnership would help the companies to "build a network of on-demand autonomous vehicles that will make getting around more affordable, accessible, and enjoyable'.
However, a date for the release of a driverless vehicle has not yet been released, meaning that you might have to wait a while to buy a taxi as a result of the partnership.
London Cabs to Accept Card Payments
Transport for London has announced that all black cabs in the city must be ready to accept contactless payment from October, in a bid to help the taxi trade keep up with rideshare competitors.
The decision was backed by representatives of London's taxi trade, who stated that allowing card payment in cabs would benefit drivers and customers alike. In preliminary consultations, around 86% of drivers surveyed said they would like to see card payments introduced.
Steve McNamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Associated commented that the decision was "Fantastic news for London. This means that when you hail a cab you can be sure that you can pay the way you like, which is without doubt better for customers and for drivers.'
Gett Hires Knowledge Students as Couriers
Taxi app Gett announced last month that they were branching out into courier services.
Gett Courier, which launched on the 1st of February, allows customers to hire a moped courier to collect and deliver a parcel, with an estimated delivery time of around an hour. Gett has stated that it will use prospective black cab drivers - so called knowledge boys and girls - as courier drivers, in an effort to support the existing taxi industry.
The service, which at the time of writing is only available in London, will be active from 9am to 9pm, and is estimated to be around 30% cheaper than alternative couriers.
Local Council Tightens Licensed Vehicle Regulations
Operators of out-of-area licensed private hire and hackney cabs within the Bradford region have been told they have six months to make efforts to comply with new council regulations.
At present, private hire and taxi vehicles from other regions can lawfully be used within the Bradford council area if pre-booked. Under the new regulations, pre-booking of out-of-area vehicles will still be legal, but will be handled through a separate booking system that places their responsibility with the relevant licensing authority in instances of complaint. Customers will also be notified if a vehicle they have booked is not licensed by Bradford Council.
The regulations are set to crack down on the number of licensed drivers from other areas operating within the Bradford council region. Around 200 out-of-area drivers currently operate across the Bradford region, which the council believes could pose a risk to the safeguarding of the public.
Hull Experiences "Chronic Shortage" of Taxi Drivers
Private Hire companies in Hull are experiencing a "chronic shortage" of drivers, with reports of customers having to wait up to 3 hours for a taxi during busy periods.
Reports from local news in Hull state that some owners of private hire firms have to "beg" drivers to work in order to get enough cars on the road, and that the shortage is prevalent even in normally quiet periods. The shortage is being attributed to the method of licensing in the city, which some operators believe could be deterring potential drivers from applying. Drivers in the city must undertake a BTEC qualification in order to receive a license, with reports of the qualification process taking around 5-10 month, which many in the cities" private hire trade believe to be too long.
Hull City Council's licensing committee has agreed to meet with representatives of private hire firms in order to assess and resolve the situation.
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