Barely Legal: Kabbee takes on Uber – The London Economic

Barely Legal: Kabbee takes on Uber

The meter has long been the cornerstone of a fair and functioning taxi industry in London but finds itself under siege by a 21st century shake-up in the form of m-commerce which has placed the meter in the pocket of the consumer.

The legality of minicabs that use Uber as a fare meter has been the cause of uproar amongst London’s brotherhood of cabbies. Private prosecutions have been launched, strikes called and the transport authority has been inundated with a backlash against the ‘appy’ invasion of a company that owns no cabs and has no drivers, but simply matches a driver/car with a customer looking for a ride and takes a slice of the fare for providing the service.

Black taxi drivers accused Uber of operating illegally because its drivers use mobile phones as a meter to calculate fares based on the distance of a journey rather than the standard meter used in the city’s trademark private cars. The big test for Uber is whether the app comes within the definition of a meter which would make it legal, albeit barely.

That decision currently resides with the High Court, but precedence would suggest the company could be forced to close down.  It has already been banned in several countries and there have been instances of improper conduct in relation to drivers that use the app. General consensus in the UK is that it is legal, but it is exploiting a loophole that could well be closed at any point.

But regardless of the outcome, there’s clearly a future in the app-based cab market, particularly the apps that utilise London’s existing fleets rather than creating new fleets that work in direct competition with the capital’s historic taxi industry. One such app to be offering a better deal to minicab drivers in London is Kabbee, which was set up by Justin Peters to improve the quality and reliability of the cab industry and  provide great transport service and consumer choice to busy Londoners.

Quality controls are in place in order to vet drivers wishing to use the service with a 30-point check and it allows users to compare and choose cabs based on price, time of arrival and crucially, customer rating. Essentially, Kabbee has taken a fragmented marketplace and applied modern technology to increase demand for existing fleets and British-owned businesses, using technology to better current infrastructure which is far less invasive than the approach Uber has taken.

Consumers are clearly enthused about the prospect of an app-based cab market which is unlikely to abate regardless of any pressures it may come under from traditional taxi firms, but that shouldn’t mean that we forget the interests of minicab drivers. The fair and more holistic model offered by Kabbee goes some way to marrying the interests of the driver and the consumer, offering a degree of parity in an era of momentous shake-up.

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