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Post Uber? London taxis embracing technology


With the use of Uber taxis in London in the balance, the traditional taxi service is embracing new forms of payment and technology.
In September 2017, Transport for London, backed by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, denied Uber’s application to renew its private hire licence in London, effectively barring the ride-hailing app from running its business in the capital. Uber are planning an appeal, although there case may not have been helped by an aggressive press campaign. The reason for the Uber ban related to questions over its “corporate responsibility.” Whether Uber is or is not a force for good (low wage employment juxtaposed with convenience for consumers who can call rides via the easy-to-use app) will be settled by the British courts. In the meantime, the traditional London taxi service has begun to adopted some of the technological advantages offered by Uber. The most significant change regarding London’s taxis is that they are now required to take credit cards and contactless payments. The use of card machines cause the minimum fare of to rise by twenty pence to £2.40 ($3). This was to cover the costs of using the new technology. Credit card companies also reduced their transaction fees for registered taxi drivers, down to 3 percent per transaction (the typical charge rate is ten percent, depending on the card company). Another innovation is with the use of apps. London cab operators have introduced smartphone apps like Hailo and Gett. Gett offers discounts on the metered fare for journeys of six miles or longer; whereas Hailo enables people to obtain a taxi via their smartphone. Cabs can also be booked via websites like Licenced London Taxi A similar app is Taxiapp. This app allows passengers to book and pay for a black cab like they would through Uber. However, rather than a fixed price, the fare is always decided by the meter. Payment can be taken via the app or in the cab. Another area being considered by many London local authorities is how the London taxi service can be accommodated into mobility-as-a-service schemes. The integration of transport, promoted by many councils, is being seen as a significant challenge to the car ownership model.

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