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Bolt’s plan to allow drivers to set their own price ‘still subject to discussion’ with TfL says Khan

Bolt’s planned fare pricing changes that allows drivers on the platform to set the price is ‘still subject to discussion’ with Transport for London (TfL) says the Mayor of London.

Ride-hailing firm Bolt recently announced a major change on its minicab app platform that would allow drivers to set their own prices and passengers to select their driver.

The move, which is a first for any UK ride hailing operator, was designed to make the Bolt platform more attractive to drivers by giving them additional control of their business.

The changes were also brought in to address national concerns around driver shortages which have been leading to longer wait times, cancellations and surge pricing across all platforms.

Bolt planned to test the new features across several cities starting from late November 2021 ahead of a wider UK roll out before Christmas which included London.

Assembly Member Keith Prince asked the Mayor of London about the date that Bolt informed TfL Taxi & Private Hire of the planned change to their business model allowing private hire drivers to set their own fare rate.

Sadiq Khan responded on 22 December 2021: “Transport for London (TfL) was informed by Bolt of some proposed changes to their charging model on 29 October 2021. Bolt has not implemented the proposed changes, which are still subject to discussion with TfL.”

Soon after the announcement TfL were asked whether the change in fare pricing had been accepted by the regulator, and also whether other taxi and minicab operators can now offer similar pricing models to the public via their apps.

A TfL spokesperson responded to TaxiPoint in November 2021 saying: “TfL has no powers to regulate private hire fares. Our role is to ensure London private hire operators comply with the Private Hire Act and associated obligations.”

Private hire representatives from App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) were quick to share their concerns after the announcement in November too.

James Farrar, ADCU General Secretary, said: “Bolt’s new pricing model is a desperate attempt to avoid accountability for worker rights for their workforce by creating a false pretence of driver control in price setting.

“In reality, Bolt’s work allocation algorithm will quickly profile and prioritise drivers who are prepared to accept ever lower prices for their work allowing Bolt to expand market share at worker's expense. The ADCU will continue its ongoing court action against Bolt for worker status.

“This programme also raises serious safety concerns associated with a substantial workload increase as drivers must now assess and bid on work offered whilst out on the road.

“If Bolt want to proceed with this plan, they must set a price floor of £2.00 per mile and allow drivers to set prices higher that this if they wish.

“In London, regulation requires that operators like Bolt provide a price quote before a journey commences. The purpose of this regulation is to give customers certainty and security of a simple pricing model. This initiative undermines the regulatory regime and essential consumer protections.“


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