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December 12, 2018

Under pressure taxi sector in London ‘could disappear’

The taxi and private hire (PH) industry in London is ‘enduring systemic adverse impacts’ and existential threats, according to one of the country’s major electronic platforms (utilised by taxi operators and customers).

By Sam Duke

The taxi and private hire (PH) industry in London is ‘enduring systemic adverse impacts’ and existential threats, according to one of the country’s major electronic platforms (utilised by taxi operators and their customers).

Moreover, London-based Karhoo makes the claim that taxis are likely to dwindle and potentially disappear in its submission to the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) investigation into taxis and PH.

The headline figures of a large increase in PH numbers in London and claims of being the cause of congestion have obscured what is really happening, the company claims.

With drivers’ wages continuing to decline and the number of PH operators reducing, Karhoo says more needs to be done to ensure the system works better for drivers, passengers and operators most of whom are smaller companies. This could include expanding the role of taxis and PH through technology, the firm suggests.

Karhoo, which has connected with over one million licensed taxis and cars worldwide, called on Transport for London (TfL) to develop objective measures for what “good” looks like in the industry and to identify the causes of decline.

The company argues the transport body should also introduce a regular survey to monitor the health of the industry in areas such as driver pay, journey volumes, growth in demand and profitability. This could then be used to identify the root causes of the problems and make interventions, says Karhoo.

Citing statistics from TfL Karhoo warns applications for the Knowledge of London are reducing significantly. The number of PH driver licence renewals has also moved from steady growth to a noticeable decline.

The submission also calls for greater collaboration across the industry from PH fleets, their representative organisations and the taxi industry and the involvement of technology companies, disability representative groups and consumer and safety groups.

Karhoo’s response said: “The inability to thrive appears to be impacting all sizes of business in all geographies across London……Widespread reports from operators in all sectors concerning the difficulty of recruiting PH drivers underlines this notion.”

“The reduction in the number of candidates to the Knowledge of London candidates suggests that the hardly discernible reduction in Licensed London Taxi Drivers over recent times is likely to accelerate as less people enter the industry given the demographics of this sector.”

“In summary, the taxi and private hire industry appears not to be thriving and is in fact enduring systemic adverse impacts.”

Karhoo Co-CEO Boris Pilichowski said: “It’s no secret that there is massive potential for the taxi and PH sectors to grow. However, changes need to be made to ensure the industry as a whole thrives.

“That can only be done by upholding standards and making sure that certain groups aren’t being exploited. Technology will also have an important part to play.

“That’s why we’ve put forward our submission – to help authorities help drivers, passengers, and smaller firms.”

Worldwide, taxi and PH operators are facing tough competition from ride-hail companies such as Uber who can undercut their rates in urban areas.

About Karhoo

Karhoo is a subsidiary of Flit Technologies, an organisation formed in 2017 that provides on-demand urban mobility services. Headquartered in London, Flit Technologies brings together booking, dispatch and payment technologies alongside urban data technology to ‘create transparent and seamless mobility services’, it says.

Karhoo is creating a ride-hailing marketplace that brings together regulated, licensed taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) fleets from around the world in the form of an electronic platform which can integrate with other travel and leisure operators’ platforms and apps, so people can call a cab immediately or pre-book transport up to a year ahead.

The Karhoo platform is integrated with over 1,000,000 licensed taxis and cars worldwide with an estimated 25,000 taxis and cars integrated into the platform in London.

Karhoo partners with legally accredited fleets ensuring public safety and allows its customers to compare choices based on their own criteria whether it be brand, price, ETA, type of vehicle or other services. Karhoo hopes to become the largest platform of taxis and private hire vehicles in the world.

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