Black cabs comeback as drivers hail ride-booking app
BLACK cabs are making a comeback in the UK with taxi drivers more willing than ever to use ride-hailing apps, according to taxi company Free Now.
Free Now completed a merger with private hire app Kapten in July and said that black cab drivers are continually joining despite reservations around being on the same platform as private vehicles.
The company claimed that it now has a passenger base of 1.5m people with 35,000 drivers in the city of London alone. UK country manager Mariusz Zabrocki said that there was a time when black cab drivers never wanted to be on the same platform as private vehicles but that now “times had changed”.
“The number one concern from drivers was that what if customers all suddenly decide the cheaper option,” he said.
“But I think black cab drivers are actually very humble because their services are very good.
“It’s much better than anything else you have in the city with cars that are specifically built for it.”
Mr Zabrocki said Free Now had seen very little churn of drivers leaving the platform after the merger and that there were up to 20 black cab drivers joining every day. He said there was a “skyrocketing demand” among drivers.
The UK chief said there had been a bump in users as Londoners sought out alternatives to public transport.
The company was hammered by the coronavirus with volumes dipping as much as 95pc in certain markets. “Business to business was completely dead, airport rides were zero, there were still some rides with consumers moving around but it has been very tough since April,” Mr Zabrocki explained.
“It is gradually improving but if you look at mobility indexes we’re still less than 40pc of pre-covid levels even though we’re seeing people switch from public transport.”
Mr Zabrocki said that he expected volumes to return to normal by November or December if there was no rise in the level of infections but said that a second wave would likely push this back to May. The company has set its sights on filling the void left behind by Uber if it loses its license to operate in the UK.
Free Now remains some way behind Uber, which has about 3.5m UK passengers.
Uber is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court over its license to operate in London.
The company licence was revoked over a “pattern of failures” related to passenger safety.”
At the time, Uber labelled the decision by Transport for London as “extraordinary and wrong”.
London’s famous taxis are said to be putting aside their reservations about private operators and joining platform