Updated: May 2, 2019
Controversial private hire app, Cribble, will launch in London on March 11 without an operators licence and without any licensed private hire drivers.
The capitals regulators Transport for London moved quickly by releasing a statement to private hire drivers telling them that they “risk prosecution and licensing action” in they used the booking app for work.
Graham Robinson, General Manager of TfL London Taxi and Private Hire said “We have been approached about a new PHV booking app called Cribble which we understand is due to launch on Monday 11 March in London.
“Based on our understanding of how the app works, any private hire drivers working via the app would be plying for hire which is unlawful. Any licensed private hire driver found to be plying for hire - through the Cribble app or otherwise - risks prosecution and licensing action by TfL.
“Should the position change in relation to the app, drivers will be notified as appropriate.”
A spokesperson from the Cribble said: “Cribble has begged TFL to opine for 18 months and they refused to do so until the final hour when they accused Cribble of offering a solution where drivers would be "plying for hire". A test case in July 2018 on the same subject was won by Uber. Somehow TFL imagine that the Cribble solution is so significantly different that they can ban Cribble without a hearing. It's a sham.
“With over £1.4M already invested in the App its not a time to give up just because a regulator sends a letter. We would have preferred to resolve this difference of opinion in court but time is of the essence.
“We are left with no choice but to launch a new version of our app that doesn't need a TFL licensed operator or TFL licensed drivers. This way, the threats from TFL can't impact the livelihoods of these good people.
“We apologise to the TFL drivers who registered on the Cribble App with the TFL licensed operator Pro Transfers in the past weeks. We had no way to know that TFL who added Cribble to their website as a brand of ProTransfers and issued official paper updates to the operator licence would make a u-turn at the 11th hour. It's a disgrace that they didn't opine or explain this "issue" earlier and give us the opportunity to debate. It was a non-transparent decision made behind closed doors. Not legitimate in my view.
“The new solution will be different from the system rejected by TFL because it will be completely self-regulated by the users. With the rejected system all drivers had to register various documents and everything was cross checked against the DVLA and TFL databases. The new system won't have any of these controls. Any driver can register just by identifying a type of vehicle (e.g. saloon, convertible, 4*4) and accepting the terms and conditions. Many aspects of the app will remain the same. Drivers will be able to set prices. Passengers will be able to pick their driver based on the type of vehicle, picture of the driver and any other description that the driver cares to add. Whilst the drivers will be able to set the price level the unit of pricing will be different. Pricing will be based exclusively on time with the app estimating the time for a journey. It is unknown how the drivers will use the system. Some might transport dogs. Others might transport the uniforms of TFL staff. Others might offer massage services in their vehicles. The system is completely flexible in that regard and like a dating software falls completely outside the realm of TFL. The new system is not designed or priced to carry passengers but there are no controls to prevent such use and consenting adults can do as they wish.
“TFL may have won the battle but have lost a seat at the table.
“Cribble is launching in London on 11 March 2019”