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3 tactics Uber could use to recruit UK Hackney Carriage taxi drivers onto their platform

Screenshot image credit: Uber

It’s no secret that ride-hailing giants Uber are looking to recruit traditional taxis onto their platform over the next couple of years.

The operator has moved fast in some global markets, including New York, Paris and Brussels, but how will they ever be able to entice UK cabbies onto the platform after a turbulent decade?

According to TaxiPoint readers, it may be a tough sell for a significant proportion of the taxi community. Many would say Uber played a key role in the demise of the taxi trade since arriving in June 2012, by taking ‘disruption’ to a new level.

However, the industry has now recovered in terms of demand and many see Uber operating on a more level playing field now that workers’ rights and VAT have been applied.

The global operator has been successful in its ‘Local Cab’ introduction, which allows regional private hire vehicle (PHV) operators to appear on the Uber platform across the UK. Many would not have seen this achievable some years back, such was the intensity of feeling against Uber.

Will taxi drivers join?

The vast majority will NOT for several reasons, but there may be some incentives that could prompt recruitment of drivers onto the platform.

Let’s look at the THREE big reasons why they won’t join.

  1. History. Many drivers in places like London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Edinburgh and other major cities have fought Uber for a number of years. There is little chance they will ever partner up with a company that has caused them so much stress over a significant time period.

  2. Choice. There’s already a huge amount of choice on the market for cabbies looking to gain work on hailing app platforms.

  3. Demand. Street work is commission free and instant with no run-ins and dead mileage costs. With demand high at the moment it has been a struggle for trusted black cab apps to cover demand at peak-times.

Despite the mammoth drawbacks, don’t expect Uber to give up on the UK taxi industry. Just because something is difficult, it doesn’t make it impossible.

Here are THREE tactics Uber could use to attract Hackney Carriage taxis onto the Uber platform.

  1. New drivers. We’ve discussed that current taxi drivers are unlikely to be interested, but what about the new drivers coming through? Uber have a wealth of PHV drivers they could fund through the varying licensing processes found in each region. Recruitment of taxi drivers has been tough in recent years, but could some savvy PR and investment make Uber look like the saviours of the taxi trade long-term by increasing the number of cabbies for the first time in a decade? It’s not completely implausible to see an ‘Uber Knowledge School’ enter the market.

  2. Buying or partnering up with black cab apps and services. This has been a tactic used in other global cities. Uber reached agreements to list New York City and San Francisco taxis on the Uber app through partnerships with CMT, Curb, Yellow Cab SF, and Flywheel Technologies. Local cab has already picked up some smaller rural taxi firms in the UK, but could we see a more traditional black cab app appear on Local Cab for example? It’s not impossible.

  3. Massive financial incentives. Money talks in the taxi industry. In fact, it speaks loudly in any sector of business. Big signing on fees offered to drivers, low commission fees and regular high value work may just turn a few seasoned cabbie heads. It’s however unclear whether Uber have the financial clout they once had to make long-term head way.

TaxiPoint predicts Uber will make their first move in the UK this year. How will the market react?


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