Whether you’re a big city driver or like to stick to the many towns and villages throughout the UK, the demand for taxi drivers means you’ll often have a hectic schedule. But no matter how busy you get, staying ahead of the competition can be difficult.

A key element of many taxi drivers’ business armoury is to be linked up with one of the ride hailing apps that have taken the industry by storm in recent years.

Okay, we’ve all heard about ride hailing giant Uber; indeed, many taxi drivers have found hooking-up with the tech giant very lucrative. Although it hasn’t all been plain sailing. There have even been legal cases culminating in a recent landmark decision of the UK’s Supreme Court.

With the courts forcing Uber to compensate drivers across the UK for missed holiday pay, paid rest breaks, pensions and the national minimum wage.

In view of these problems, it makes sense to never put all your eggs in one ‘ride hailing app’ basket. So, what other ride hailing apps are available to you and your customers?

Over recent years there are many ride hailing apps that have launched in a bid to take Uber’s crown. If you’re unsure about what this next generation of apps are all about and what they might offer to you and your customers then read on to find out more.

But remember, if you want your taxi business to run smoothly then you not only need a reliable car, excellent people skills, and the latest technology.

You also need to find the best taxi insurance to keep you and your vehicle on the road at all times. Give Taxi Insurer a call today and discuss your options.

 

Uber rivals

In an attempt to challenge Uber’s dominance of the UK's on-demand taxi market, many ride hailing apps have come up with some interesting developments to the Uber model.

But while Uber still remains king – it has 45,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in London alone – Transport for London still continues to closely monitor the company and has promised to take swift action against it should they fail to meet strict standards.

Indeed, Uber’s new 18-month licence to operate in the capital that was recently won after a lengthy legal battle, comes with a number of conditions, allowing TfL to check closely that Uber is following the regulations.

So, what alternatives are there to Uber that every taxi driver should know about? Let’s take a look.

A phone with the Uber app loading on it

Bolt

Hailing from Tallinn in Estonia, Bolt launched in the UK in 2019 following a previously unsuccessful attempt back in 2017. On its website it boasts the lowest commission fees, fairest treatment of drivers, and 100% carbon-neutral rides.

It could be a suitable app for many drivers, including those who want to drive full time and those who only want to do a few hours over the weekends. While there are no monthly fees, you’ll need to pay Bolt a commission of between 10% to 20% depending on the city in which you’re driving.

It currently covers London, Milton Keynes and Peterborough, with over 35,000 drivers on its books and more than 1.5 million registered users.

Bolt has big plans for the business and in 2019 even launched a food delivery service in Tallinn to rival UberEats. Unfortunately, there’s still no word on a UK launch just yet.

Bolt on App Store and Google Play

 

Free Now / Kapten

Paris-based start-up Kapten, bankrolled by car giants Daimler and BMW, first launched in the spring of 2019 in London. It exploded onto the ride hailing market, aggressively taking on Uber with a billboard in Leicester Square targeting its rivals tax affairs.

It also sought to set itself apart with a focus on social responsibility (such as operating zero emissions vehicles) and a marketing emphasis on younger riders.

In 2020, Black cab app Free Now combined with Kapten to form a new app service under the Free Now brand. With over 35,000 drivers in London alone and 1.5 million registered users they are a serious contender to Uber.

Indeed, it was the first time that passengers were able to hire black cabs and private vehicles using a single app. These moves have given the company a decent base from which to directly challenge Uber’s domination of the market.

Free Now claims to be driver-centric with features including a rate and block passenger function, up to six months of ride and payment history, follow-up jobs, on the way notifications, and many other useful functions.

There’s also a dedicated Driver Care Team that’s always there to help and answer any driver questions. Importantly, they promise to remove unjustified ratings and never lock a driver out of their account without warning.

On top of all that, there’s a Driver Loyalty Program that aims to reward and recognise the efforts of hard-working drivers.

At the end of every month you will qualify through the program into one of the three tiers: Bronze, Silver or Gold. Depending on which tier you’re in you’ll get access to a wide range of discounts and offers.

The app is available in a range of UK cities including Brighton, Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, Derby and Leicester.

Free Now on App Store and Google Play

 

Ola

While Indian ride hailing firm Ola only launched in London in 2020 it had already started its UK journey in smaller cities like Exeter, Wolverhampton and Cardiff back in 2018.

With large financial backing via Softbank and a more localised approach this seems to be working and the company is adding more towns and cities all the time. Apart from London the current list includes:

  • South Wales: Cardiff, Newport and the Vale of Glamorgan
  • South West: Bath, Bristol, Exeter, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
  • Merseyside: Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Wirral and Cheshire West & Chester
  • West Midlands: Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Coventry and Warwick
  • South East: Reading

Meanwhile they’ve also announced launches in:

  • Greater Manchester: Manchester City, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Rossendale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan
  • East Midlands: Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Ashford, Rushcliffe, North West Leicestershire
  • Cambridgeshire: Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire

Alongside this growing coverage, Ola claims drivers will earn more of each fare and will receive bonuses and incentives to boost incomes.

There’s also a 24/7 helpline and daily payments so you get your previous day’s earnings the next working day.

Ola on App Store and Google Play Store

A driver smiling behind the steering wheel of a car

ViaVan

If you drive an MPV or minibus then ViaVan may well be a valuable ride hailing app just for you.

ViaVan’s ambition is to reshape public transport through ride sharing and a feature that’s almost like your very own personal bus service or expanded Uber Pool.

A joint venture between ride sharing start-up Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan is essentially an on-demand bus. So, riders never have to feel guilty for jamming up the roads for the sake of a solo journey.

ViaVan claims its technology provides riders with the environmental benefits of public transportation and the convenience of a private car.

The company uses complex algorithms to seamlessly match in real time passengers with others who are headed in the same direction.

Thereby taking people to their destinations in the quickest, most affordable, and environmentally responsible way possible. This is great news for drivers of larger vehicles who have sometimes missed out on business due to their size.

Since launching in London in 2018, ViaVan has certainly saved many millions of vehicle miles thanks to its pooling feature.

But it’s not all about London. Over in Milton Keynes, ViaVan has rolled out the UK’s first fully electric fleet for on-demand shared rides.

ViaVan also lets drivers choose whether to be paid by the ride or by the hour. Plus it sends you the rates for the upcoming day so you can plan your schedule in advance. Whatever your plans, always make sure you’ve got appropriate taxi insurance in place for your vehicle.

Viavan on App Store and Google Play

 

Wheely

A bespoke five-star service for when Uber just won’t cut it, Mayfair-based Wheely focuses on the high-end London market.

On the back of glowing customer reviews, it has been gaining a sizable foothold over the last couple of years, particularly for airport transfers from areas such as Kensington and Knightsbridge.

If you think you could provide a little bit of luxury when it comes to ride hailing then it might be worth looking to see whether Wheely is someone worth partnering with.

Wheely prides itself on offering a chauffeur car service, with all drivers selected through a rigorous accreditation process to ensure they offer the highest standard of service. This includes a local geography test, chauffeur étiquette, and vehicle and document checks.

It’s also worth mentioning that your car needs to be a new Mercedes-Benz E-class, S-class or V-class that’s no more than four years old.

There’s also a strict vehicle accreditation process in which your vehicle is assessed for colour, condition, cleanliness and a range of other service standards. If you feel you and your car are up to it then Wheely could be one for you.

Wheely on App Store and Google Play

 

xooox

And the prize for most difficult to work out name goes to xooox. xooox (pronounced ‘zooks’ if you’re wondering) lets drivers find their own fares and take control of their own prices in real time through a range of handy tech tools.

Drivers can also choose how much they want to pay in commission to xooox for rides, and are able to set their own geographic boundaries so you can stay local if you want to.

Handily xooox hasn’t just launched in the big cities like London, Manchester, or Birmingham. Instead it’s available everywhere across the entire UK.

It’s a great way for taxi companies and drivers to remain independent but network together to offer an unrivalled service to passengers.

xooox on App Store and Google Play

A man waiting outside of a building for a taxi using his mobile phone

Gett

Targeted at black cab drivers, Gett has been around for a while in the taxi world. It first launched in 2011 to cut wait times and allow advance ordering.

The app focuses on corporate customers and is invaluable for ride hailing in a number of UK areas. These include London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Reading, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Gett recently raised its commission rate from 15% to 20% in light of the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its business.

Gett on App Store and Google Play

 

Wystle

The most recent arrival to the London ride hailing app scene is Wystle. Created by Londoners for Londoners, Wystle claims to be London’s first homegrown ride app.

It’s aiming to recruit over 10,000 drivers across the capital and is offering the opportunity to earn commission free for the first month, followed by a low commission rate of 13%. And with a broad range of vehicles on offer to riders, whether you drive a Toyota Hybrid or a Mercedes E-type there’s a spot at Wystle.

Wystle on App Store and Google Play

 

Taxiapp

Another development in the world of black cab ride hailing is Taxiapp. This not-for-profit co-operative is owned and run by cabbies themselves.

And is doing its bit to keep traditional black cabs on London’s streets while offering passengers a reliable way of getting around. And with a driver fee of just £20 a month it’s worth it.

Taxiapp on App Store and Google Play

A person driving a car with both hands on the wheel on a sunny day

Taxi insurance to protect your livelihood

Once you’ve downloaded some of these ride hailing apps you’ll be sure to have a great time growing your taxi service even further.

The specialist team at Taxi Insurer understands the stresses and strains experienced by drivers and is always looking for ways to help get you the best taxi insurance.

We’ve spent decades working with our trusted panel of insurers, so your vehicle will be in the safest hands possible.

Whatever you do, don’t put it off. Call Taxi Insurer to get a quote for taxi insurance today and see how much you could save.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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