Just when London cabbies thought they had secured a vital ally in their fight against the Uber – London Mayor Boris Johnson having agreed to lobby the UK government on their behalf to introduce legislation that will cap the number of private hire cars in the capital – the ride-hailing company has opened another front in its war with the cabbies and one that we predict the cabbies will be hard pushed to win.
The company’s UberPool service starts in London today, which offers customers a ride-sharing service that, by splitting the journey costs between all the passengers, reduces them still further. The service has already been in place in Paris for over a year and now accounts for 10 per cent of all Uber rides in the French capital. More importantly, the company claims that the new UberPool service will be up to 25 per cent cheaper than UberX, its current least expensive offering.
According to news reports this week, the service will be provided by trained drivers who hold minicab licenses and so will differ from its UberPop service which used private car owners to offer lifts without formal training and which was controversially banned by the French courts.
As befits a company rooted in technology, the new service uses an algorithm that matches passengers’ ride requests and then pools them together. We at Explorer Travel insurance can only hope that it’s a better one than the algorithm used by the grocery companies which decides the substitutes to offer you when shopping online. (A recent survey by Which? found that 45% of over 2,000 people questioned had at least one item from their last order substituted).
Our favourite was one unfortunate shopper who was preparing to have his friends round for dinner. His experience was recorded as: “My order included a bottle of Tempranillo and a white Bordeaux. They claimed not to have either and so substituted the red with a big bag of Doritos and the white with a three-pack of sweetcorn. That was some dinner party.”