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CHANGING PHV MARKET: Minicab app disrupters all have ‘MAJOR PROBLEMS’ says LTDA representative

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

Minicab app ‘disrupters’ all have ‘major problems’ said a top taxi industry representative as the Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) market continues to rapidly evolve post-pandemic.

Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, also paid tribute to the licensed taxi trade, stating that greener black cabs, contactless payment facilities and changes to workers’ rights have all played a part in the ‘renaissance’ of the cab industry.

The warning of ‘major problems’ follows a recent High Court judgment that ruled London PH Operators should contract directly with passengers in the interests of public safety. Operators must also now ensure that passengers have appropriate legal recourse in the event that something goes wrong during a private hire journey.

Uber are the highest profile operator to make the change, but many other big operators in the capital, are yet to make a move to change their Terms and Conditions. The changes are likely to force PH Operators to pay VAT on all rides, pushing up prices in the process.

Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, said in TAXI Newspaper: “How the world has changed. Five or six years ago, many within the media and politics had written off the London taxi trade and predicted our demise at the hands of the ‘disrupters’ such as Uber, Bolt and Ola. I never quite understood how what was in reality just a series of minicab firms with apps ever gained such cult, almost mythical status.

“Needless to say, it never happened and it’s now these very ‘disrupters’ that are struggling to survive. The reasons for our renaissance have been attributed variously to the pandemic, Brexit, our universal acceptance of contactless payments, our apps, the new clean cabs, the worker’s rights case, their higher prices; a dawning customer realisation that their service is dubious, unsafe and cr*p – plus a dozen other reasons. The truth is it’s a combination of all of these, but no amount of press releases about flying taxis can distract from the fact that the ‘disrupters’

all have major problems.

“Most industry pundits think it can only be a matter of time before Uber apply for another ‘part 8 hearing’ at the High Court in an attempt to replicate the London case. The intention would be to get every Private Hire firm in the country recognised as the ‘principal’ in the arrangement with the customer, making them liable for VAT and their drivers entitled to some form of workers rights.

“They point towards Uber’s launch of their new ‘Uber Local’ service in Manchester, whereby they will take the booking but use local minicab firms to cover the ride as an indication of where the private hire industry might be headed. A complete flip of Uber’s business model from being an operator to being a booking and allocation platform for the entire country. The jury is still out on this one, but any business model that might actually make money, rather than losing millions, has to have been considered?”


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