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London's Black Cabs Face Uber Tough Competition

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London’s black cabbies aren’t happy with Uber, a mobile app that is a public transport game changer. I can’t say I blame them; I wouldn’t like it if another taxi company came about offering a quicker, cleaner service, with polite drivers, without as many rules and regulations for a reasonable price.

I’m not going to deny London’s Black Cabs are going down the hard road. In September, the tube is going to be running 24 hour weekends and London Mayor Boris Johnson's proposition that all taxis upgrade their cabs for ultra-low emissions zone will go ahead, City Hall also wants to introduce a 10 year age limit on taxi’s. Not to mention the buffeting arrival of new apps for booking private hire vehicles.

However this is where my sympathy stops, as it seems London’s black cabs don’t like change. Instead of taking drastic measures to improve their business model become uber tough competition, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) have begun demonstrations to have Transport for London to enforce rules and regulations on rivals.

Now, I understand I’m writing about a touchy subject but if I’ve done my research right it seems to me LTDA is angry for the ‘double standards’ from TFL. Fair enough, TFL do appear to have double standards for all different means of transport. They have a responsibility to please the majority and unlike Amsterdam, London’s majority is not riding bikes.  

Let’s face it. Ultimately, Uber is a taxi service. It’s found loopholes in the TFL and has managed to take advantage of it. In my last article, How to be Uber at Marketing, I outlined how Uber has managed to make customers focus on the positives and given them incentives become advocates for the company. This is where I think London Black cabs have got it all wrong. Fighting the legal system isn’t going to help business, it’s making it worse.

Let’s look at the facts; app-based transportation networks are taking over, Uber overall is providing a better public transportation service, in order to drive a London Black Cab potential drivers are required to sit hardest taxi test in the world, “The Knowledge” that can take up to four years to pass and undergo an “enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)” background check which goes back three years.

Black cabbies also want to ensure Uber is paying proper tax in the UK (Uber’s office is based in Holland). To achieve this, the United Cabbies Group are protesting by ‘slowing down’ causing major gridlocks in the city centre between TFL’s headquarter and nearby Victoria Station. They are planning another demonstration on the 26th of May.   

Although you can understand why cabbies are getting road rage, you can also see how they are getting a bad reputation. Unfortunately, this is business and minicabs, more-so Uber, grew so quickly because their services found methods to solve a lot of common problems with the taxi services all over the world.

But here is why I don’t feel sorry for London’s Black Cabs. Have you seen London’s taxi service running anywhere else in the world? No. London Black Cabs have the tourism market advantage. In 2013, Office for National Statistics reported 16.8 million visitors and spent an estimate of £11.2 billion.

LTDA needs to promote the English Taxi experience. Let’s be fair, Black cabs only have to compete with the famous double-decker buses and the tube and they have the upper hand. Wouldn’t you rather get a London Black cab to arrive at your door and quickly get you to your destination then face the English cold, wet weather, get squashed into someone’s armpit on the smelly train and then get lost.

Suggestion to all Black cab drivers: Rock out some of England’s finest music during taxi rides and possibly add bobbing head Corgi’s wearing crowns on your dashboard.

Black cab drivers know London’s streets like the back of their hand. Unlike a GPS, they know where traffic jams are and when they are going to begin. No need to stop and add closest pharmacy to you’re mobile app’s GPS because it’s the next street on the left.

Also, Black Cab drivers are safe. Drivers didn’t undergo an “enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)” background check for no reason. Ubers only looked at their private drivers last 6 months and I don’t know if you heard but a mortifying incident in India where a girl stated she got raped by an Uber taxi driver but it hasn’t been good publicity for Uber globally.

London Black cabs drivers background checks go back 3 years. Instead of protesting to the TFL enforce drivers for a longer history check, they need to start promoting themselves as the safer option.
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Black cabs are the only cabs you are allowed to hail from the street. No other taxi services have that privilege. Phone app called “Hailo” has popped up for Black cabs –so they don’t have the technology disadvantage.

Most taxi services cannot accommodate special needs requirements. Black cabs have electric wheelchair accessibility. Another market that only London Black cabs has no rivals. 

London cab drivers are proud citizens. They’re very passionate about providing a good service, promoting beautiful England and giving back – through paying taxes. It’s unknown whether or not Uber is paying the right taxes and honestly, that’s not Black Cabs problem - it’s her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

But yet again, London Black Cabs will be on strike in Victoria outside TFL's headquarters. Their last strike had over 2,000 drivers drive slowly, in protest, on Oxford Street. 

Causing gridlocks in the city centre isn’t going to make famous Black Cabs popular with local Londoners. Actually, it appears they got some serious backlash from that protest and won Uber a lot more customers.

This week will be a partially bad week for London transportation, Network Rail, the company which keeps the entire UK rail network running is going on strike. Instead of becoming London's much needed saviours for public transport, Uber will, and yet again, London Black cabs will feel the effect of the loss of more customers.


Jessica Smith 
Australian girl, Jessica is loving England but is missing the sunshine! She loves writing, dogs and plays hockey! Follow her @JessicaAtSMF


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London's Black Cabs Face Uber Tough Competition Reviewed by Jessica Smith on Monday, May 25, 2015 Rating: 5

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