Even London’s #1 Minicab Fleet is Feeling the Squeeze
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 3 years, you will know all about UBER’s controversial private driver service. Despite protests from Hackney Carriage and minicab drivers alike, the app giant has steadily gained traction in London, acquiring over 500,000 users in recent months. There was further backlash last summer when Hailo, the black taxi app, applied for a PHO licence to start offering minicab rides too.
It’s no secret that small fleets have felt the pain of this technological revolution, losing both customers and drivers to these highly financed app companies; even T Dispatch has lost some valuable clients who had to close down when a new player came into town.
This week, the London Evening Standard reported that Addison Lee, long reigning front-runner in the city’s private hire transport, may be forced to lay off around 90 members of staff due to the heavy influence of UBER and Hailo in their business. Liam Griffin, son of the firm’s founder (John Griffin), announced that the whole company’s structure needed to be reassessed, which may result in some non customer-facing roles being cut.
Addison Lee have been innovators of the UK private hire industry for several years. They launched their iPhone app in 2009 and were the first minicab company to send a text informing of the driver’ arrival. Many other companies have looked to them as a benchmark for customer service. However, the influx of taxi and private driver apps has presented some fierce competition, which now even the longest established companies are starting to fear.
Transport for London have received criticism for how they have handled the recent changes within the city’s private transport – in particular, letting UBER operate outside the regulations that had previously been rigorously enforced for cabbies. When speaking on the matter, Liam Griffin said “TfL completely and utterly bottled it”.
The GMB union met with Addison Lee this week to discuss the situation. From whichever way you look at it, it would seem that the battle is far from over, with further casualties likely on all sides. We’ll be watching this space very closely.