You may have heard that there’s a new PHV competitor on the market – Indian app Ola. It has already launched in South Wales, has gained an operating licence in Greater Manchester, and told the Evening Standard that it is in “constructive conversation” with Transport for London.
Ola is just one of a number of PHV firms trying to capitalise on Uber’s struggles both in London, and around the country as a whole. Ola has been making bold claims that it is the only app in the UK offering both PHVs and black cabs through “one consumer-friendly platform” and has pledged to “lead the industry” with its approach to driver working conditions and passenger safety. So, Ola is already telling fibs then! It doesn’t have any “black cabs” and won’t have - Uber tried that and after two years of trying, all sorts of incentives and giveaways only a handful of our trade sold their souls to join the dark side.
Ola’s ambition is to be nationwide by the end of 2018. Only time will tell whether it is really prepared to be a fit and proper operator, or whether it wants to be just another cowboy like Uber. While Ola’s moving into PHVs in London, Uber might be moving out. Its Chief Executive recently announced that he’s planning to ditch cars and switch focus to electric bikes and scooters in the next phase of its plans for domination. Uber’s planning to promote “alternative transport options to car use.” Ironic really, when they’re the biggest cause of increasing congestion in city centres. If Uber thinks that jumping on the back of the anti-car revolution will help its fortunes with TfL, it’s getting a little carried away. It will be directly challenging City Hall’s own Santander bikes, and joining the ranks of dockless bike schemes such as Mobike, which are already causing headaches for TfL. Uber’s also getting ahead of itself if it thinks it can pioneer electric scooters in London. We don’t have the regulation in place to allow electric scooters to be used on public roads in the UK; meaning it would quite simply be illegal to put them on our streets. At the end of the day, pushing its bike and scooter business in London is unlikely to give Uber the long-term security it is looking for. That’s not to say we won’t be pleased to see a few less Ubers around! While we’re on cycling, we are feeding into a new Government consultation on new laws which would introduce offences for cyclists causing death or serious inquiry. This has been a long time coming. Being out on the streets all day long, taxi drivers know better than anyone that dangerous cycling is becoming an increasing hazard to drivers and pedestrians alike. It’s great to finally see politicians take notice and work to better align penalties for offences for dangerous driving between car users and cyclists. With London roads becoming ever more congested, it’s up to all of us -cabbies, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians – to do our bit to make our streets safer.