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BACK TO BLACK: Ride-hailing coverage issues and high prices pushing passengers back into black taxis

Passengers are going back to black using London’s iconic taxis as ride-hailing coverage issues and increased surge pricing pushes demand for black cabs.

At the height of the pandemic many taxi drivers were forced to turn to different jobs and employment to tide themselves over as work levels dipped to record lows. Fast forward to September onwards and demand has now returned, spiking to record highs.

According to London’s biggest taxi fleet rental, Colts Cabs, the firm reported card payment transactions hitting its highest figure since the COVID pandemic forced restrictions in March 2020. More than 40,000 transactions were recorded on Thursday 9 September. In comparison, a daily number of card transactions in June 2020 fell below 3,000 payments.

Black cab app, Gett, has reported a 40% increase in rides each day compared to the first quarter of 2020.

The increase in demand has been caused by many factors since people returned back to work space offices and are again enjoying leisure activities banned throughout large parts of the pandemic.

A national shortage of private hire drivers has seen the unmet demand pushed towards the licensed taxi sector. The minicab driver shortages have also pushed prices higher than regulated taxi fares.

One Londoner posted on sonically media: “Dear black cabs we’re sorry the grass wasn’t greener on the Uber side”

Alistair McKenzie said via social media: “Tried ordering an Uber for the first time in two years from the Strand, London.... Nothing. No cars available. Got a black cab in the end, which was amazingly cheap.”

Political Correspondent Kate McCann has also experienced problems getting a minicab in the capital saying ride-hailing apps are ‘barely worth trying’.

McCann said: “Trying to get home is now a complete nightmare in London, especially Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights. Uber/Bolt so unreliable it's barely worth trying.

“Last week I ended up walking 1.5miles alone at 1am to find a taxi/bus ...which didn't feel like a great move.”

Since Spring time, ride-hailing firm Uber having been looking to recruit an additional 20,000 private hire drivers. Operator Addison Lee has also committed to finding an extra 1,000 drivers in the capital.

This week TaxiPoint reported the number of registered minicabs entering London’s Congestion Charge zone in mid-August 2021 was 43% lower than that recorded in April 2018.

In April 2018 the daily average number of PHVs entering central London stood at 17,271, however post-pandemic that number has dropped to just 10,121.

Driver shortages in the sector are thought to be due to drivers leaving the industry during the pandemic to pursue different careers in similar paid logistic and delivery jobs.


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