Who can or will replace Uber in London then? Is it possible?
In November 2019, Transport for London (TfL) revealed it would not renew Uber’s license to operate in the UK’s capital. Uber is appealing which means it can continue to serve ride hailing customers in the city for now. Its London rivals must be rubbing their hands in glee. Here are some of them:
A joint venture between Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan wants to be an addition to public transport. Chris Snyder, ViaVan CEO, says the company’s goal is “to offer something that was different and more sustainable and in line with the city’s goals.” The company targets shared rides, where users can ride for less if they choose to share their journey with another user picked up during a journey. It’s also close to TfL, partnering for an on-demand bus service in a part of London, Sutton, where there is less public transport.
Originally out of Paris, Kapten is backed by BMW and Daimler. General Manager, Mariusz Zabrocki, told Wired Kapten had an aggressive start and went out to directly compete with Uber. It tried to distinguish its service with a more local presence, demonstrating its social responsibility and targeting adverts towards younger ride-hailers. Kapten is also focusing on offering journeys outside of London’s congestion zone, concentrating more on rides such as from tube stations to further afield.
Taxify initially began operations in London in 2017 after buying a company which held a private hire license for the capital. TfL shut down Taxify but now the company has re-emerged with a new name, Bolt. One of Bolt’s team, who assisted with the Taxify launch in Australia’s cities, Melbourne and Sydney, Sam Raciti, says Bolt has been on a “journey of redemption with TfL.”
Raciti is in charge of London’s Bolt roll-out and the company recruited drivers for months before launch with the goal of having thousands of drivers available for its first day of operation in London. Bolt takes just 15% commission from drivers, compared to the 25% standard of Uber. By November 2019, Raciti declared, “in the space of five months we’ve captured over 50 per cent of the driver base.”
Competition for Uber
The competition is fierce in London. Bolt has about 25,000 drivers compared to Uber’s 45,000 and Kapten’s 20,000. But these drivers don’t just work for one ride-hailing company, they use fast phones and driver applications from each company, taking the first suitable job and going offline with the other companies while they complete it.
Each company is offering incentives to keep drivers, even Uber and marketing to ride-hailing customers is also competitive. There are penalties to drivers, for turning down rides for example, and these and payment issues have led to drivers to forums to complain. Drivers are concerned Uber might cease to operate in London, but the emergence of competitors has dampened that concern.
There are other competitors too, Hailo was operating in London before Uber. Then there is Wheely, Xoox, and others like Ola which are set to launch.
No matter what happens with Uber, it now looks like London will continue to see numerous ride-hailing operators, a competitive market and plenty of choice for drivers and ride-hailing users.