Taxiapp has long been a platform showing promise, but it has never quite kicked on to the next level when it comes to public taxi mobility. The app originally started with its unique selling point being the co-operative structure at the heart of its working model.
Whilst this attracted over 1,000 drivers to join during its heyday, it stalled at this number and dropped to just 800. With little room to grow, those running Taxiapp took a bold step to close the co-operative model and introduce a new deal for the industry.
Offering 0% commission and no subs, the management team are looking to reignite the platform once more. We spoke to the Taxiapp Team to learn more about the recent changes.
THERE HAVE BEEN SOME BIG CHANGES TO TAXIAPP AND ITS WORKING MODEL. HOW WILL IT IMPACT DRIVERS USING THE HAILING PLATFORM?
Simple answer is it’s a lot better for drivers. When we launched, we were 10% commission, which was the lowest around. But we looked at it and realised that actually that was also wrong. None of us should be paying anything for work.
So we now charge passengers a £3 booking fee and drivers pay 0% commission. This means they keep all the fare as they should – they’re doing the work after all. Passengers don’t mind the booking fee, as they’re essentially paying for the convenience of a black cab coming to them.
WHAT ARE THE LONG- TERM AMBITIONS AND GOALS FOR TAXIAPP UNDER THE NEW WORKING MODEL?
To keep growing. With any ride hailing app there’s a catch-22 in that you need more drivers to get more passengers, but you need more passengers to get more drivers. Every month since we launched, we’ve increased our numbers in both camps. But there’s more to be done.
Will we unseat Gett and Freenow? We’d love to, but it’s a David Vs Goliath undertaking. We’re having an impact though. The scaling commission rates they recently offered are definitely in response to us being commission free and that’s good for everyone. It changes the agenda.
The big apps have taken black cab drivers for granted and frankly taken the pee out of us. Our ultimate goal to stop all drivers, whether they’re with us or not, paying commission. Obviously, we’d prefer it if they were on Taxiapp though.
A SECTION OF DRIVERS HAVE VOICED CONCERNS PROMPTED BY THE MODEL CHANGE AWAY FROM COOPERATIVE. ARE YOU SYMPATHETIC TO THEIR CONCERNS?
It’s not been a model change as Taxiapp Partnerships is a completely separate entity. The co-op was the co- op and that’s an important difference.
That ran on a subs model and long story short, was failing financially – the accounts are online if anyone wants to see them.
When Taxiapp Partnership was set up, having seen the subs model didn’t work, it was obvious a different route was needed. When we started, we were charging 10% commission on each fare, before changing to 0% commission at the start of the year. Which is of course a lot better for drivers.
We understand and appreciate that a lot of people paid subs into the co-op, ourselves included. That’s one of the reasons why Taxiapp Partnership is 42% owned by the drivers working on the app.
When we hit our targets and are in a position to do so, our goal is to pay back driver contributions to the co-op through our profit share, with every £1 paid in subs increasing a driver’s share.
There’s no obligation to do this, but to us it’s the right thing to do. Until then, by being 0% commission, we’re helping to put more money in people’s pockets on a more regular basis. We’re an app for the trade first and foremost. And always will be.
THERE ARE MANY TAXI BOOKING APPS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE TO USE ON THE MARKET. THESE RANGE FROM THE ESTABLISHED TO THE JUST RELEASED. WHAT MAKES TAXIAPP A UNIQUE OPTION?
It’s a combination of being 0% commission and drivers having the veto votes. When we met with the investors, we insisted that three principles were written into the legal structure of Taxiapp Partnership.
These were that: the business can’t be sold; we’ll never have private hire; and that commission can’t increase. The only way these can change is if our drivers vote for it. Which we doubt they ever would.
Long term, we also have our profit share. We’re a way off that, but when we’re in a position to do so, all our drivers will get a cut of our profits based on their activity on the app. It’s hard to make this feel real for drivers, as we’re all working to pay bills today, but it’s there and we look forward to the day we can do it.