Launching in 2008, Uber has reshaped the market of taxi hailing. It introduced an application-based service where the drivers that are closest are notified when you require a taxi. Not only this, and more so in the US, it introduced a ride-share service which helped reduce both the carbon footprint of taxis, along with the cost to the customer. Amazing! The company has seen some controversy through it’s ownership by Google and their whole tax debacle, and through the fact that Transport for London has battled Uber over ensuring their drivers adhere to certain language requirements and tests. Despite this, the company is still arguably the most well known international taxi service, and until recent years has faced no competition. Taxify aim to change this…
Taxify is almost the same concept as Uber. A customer accesses an app, orders a local driver and is taken to their destination. A notable difference between the two however, is that Taxify does not consider itself a taxi company at all. Rather, they see themselves as a middle man, a ‘technological platform’ that acts between the customer and between the taxi service City Drive Services in London. The reasons for this to me seem to be twofold. Firstly, by declaring themselves an app and not a taxi company, Taxify shirks the need to hold a private operator’s license within the city. Secondly, by using taxi companies already in London, Taxify wouldn’t face the same scrutiny that Uber has regarding drivers who already operate in the city claiming that their jobs are being taken, and fares undercut.
Speaking of undercutting fares, the way that Taxify was going to declare itself as a real player in the taxiing world was to offer cut-price offers during its first month operating, cheaper than Uber. Taxify also claim to offer better pay and working conditions for drivers, playing on the negative press Uber has received. Unfortunately this discounted month was cut short. After only three days operating, Taxify received challenges from TfL, with arguments that trying to loophole the private hire license requirement is illegal, and when another taxi hailing company attempted a similar concept.
Splyt, a British company in the likes of Uber and Taxify, was fined a total of just under £7,000 for launching a taxi app without holding an operator’s license, which TfL believed to be breaching legislation. The judge of the case deemed that it was complex, but E London Cars felt that if Splyt lost their case and were consequently fined, then Taxify should be subject to the same scrutiny. In defence of Taxify, after only three days operating they were challenged by TfL and told to cease operations. They did this immediately and released a notice to its drivers. Part of this note was a confirmation in bold that ‘As per your agreement and contract you are not employed by Taxify. Nor do you work for Taxify … As such when asked it is not correct to give Taxify as your company.’ Now by highlighting this they are drawing a line in the sand as to their more agency-style stance than Uber, however it is also the red flag that screams that what they are doing is certainly a grey area of private hire legislation. Looks like none of Taxify’s drivers will be nearby for the time being.
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