Private hire driver representatives have argued allowing drivers on the Bolt ride-hailing platform to set their own fares could undermine regulatory regime and other essential consumer protections.
Bolt, a firm who claim to have over 65,000 drivers and 4million customers in the UK, are set to introduce a major change on its minicab app platform which allows drivers to set their own prices and passengers to select their driver.
The move is a first of its kind for any UK ride hailing operator, and is designed to make the Bolt platform more attractive to drivers by giving them additional control of their business.
The new changes are also aimed at addressing national concerns around driver shortages which have been leading to longer wait times, cancellations and surge pricing across all platforms.
However, representatives from the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) have called on the operator to raise the minimum price per mile to £2 and also raised concerns over regulation requirements that asks operators to provide a price quote before a journey begins.
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.“
Commenting at the launch of the new price structure yesterday, Sam Raciti, Bolt’s Regional Manager for Western Europe, said: “Drivers have consistently asked us for the ability to set their own prices so they can ensure a journey is profitable enough before it's accepted. By making these changes we hope to reduce waiting times on the Bolt app and have fewer driver cancellations so customers can get to their destination quickly and safely following increased demand in recent weeks.
“We have built our business around giving drivers total flexibility. These changes are part of that philosophy and will create a better functioning marketplace.”