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New minicab app set to launch despite warnings from Transport for London

A new ride-sharing app is set to enter the London market despite concerns from the industry and the capital’s regulator. The app called Cribble, describes itself as the app that makes buying a ride like buying on Amazon is launching on 11th March 2019.

The service has come under fire due to its unique model whereby both taxi and private hire drivers set the price of the journey. However just recently licensed taxis have now been excluded from using the app with a spokesperson claiming “TfL rules prevent black cab drivers from charging more when its busy even when booked via an operator for a fixed price”. TaxiPoint asked the Cribble spokesperson to explain in more depth how the operator and app works which charges commission at 10%+40p for each job. First off, is Cribble an operator? You say you have an operators licence, but then in section 5 of you’re FAQs you say you’re not an operator? Cribble is the name of an App owned by NXT24 Sprl. Cribble is also a Brand name used by Pro Transfer Limited under TFL licence 009583. If you are not an operator, how do private hire drivers accept work on your platform? ie does it work in the same way as a taxi driver? As per above. In London Cribble operates under TFL licence 009583 Who sets the price of the journey? The operator, the private hire driver or Cribble (if not acting as an operator). The operator defines a basic framework with a start fee, airport fee and price per unit of distance. The driver sets a multiplier that can be in the range 0.5 to 3. When the passenger defines the route then Cribble calculates the price taking into consideration the distance and the multiplier requested by the driver. Therefore once the passenger picks a route a bunch of drivers will appear on the map that the rider can click for details about the price, vehicle and driver. Lastly, who accepts the immediate hail for the journey from the customer? The operator, the private hire driver or Cribble (if not acting as an operator). The Cribble software which acts on behalf of the licensed operator performs all of the functions required to capture the ride before it is passed to the driver etc. Practically, when the rider picks a driver and places an order Cribble will capture the request and “reserve" the driver in the database and then “ask” the driver to “re-confirm” availability and willingness to take the ride. Cribble ensures that all records required by TFL are maintained and that information is shared in the required sequence on behalf of the operator. Since then London regulators Transport for London have stepped in issuing a warning to take “licensing action” against Cribble should they go ahead and launch their model on 11th March. According to Cribble, Michael Stack, Interim Head of Licensing, London Taxi and Private Hire at Transport for London Sentra letter to Pro Transfers Limited saying "It is appropriate to warn you that should you look to introduce this solution, we will consider whether licensing action is required to be taken against you as the operator and also against any driver who was available to you and has accepted a booking made via this proposed channel".  However, Cribble claim the “threat is idle” since according to Stack "We recognise that this is a complex area of the law and any decision will need to be carefully considered taking into consideration the circumstances of each case". Cribble claims this means that TFL can't find any laws that are broken. Cribble’s spokesperson went on to say in the statement made on their website: “It's difficult to imagine why TFL would try to obstruct a new model that offers customers choice and tries to bring private hire drivers a little more pay but the politics of black cab drivers and investors with deep pockets can’t be ruled out. “The bottom line is that TFL need to put up or shut up. “Cribble is launching in London on 11 March 2019.” 

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