London cabbies launch discount fares

The drivers are fighting back against Uber

England, Traditional black cab

London's cabbies are fighting back against taxi-hailing app Uber by offering fixed prices and off-peak discounts on fares.

By teaming up with rival app Gett, black cab drivers will be able to tell the passenger the price of the trip in advance, based on the distance and the time it usually takes.

They will also start offering a discount of 30% for journeys of six miles or more on weekdays during off-peak hours: between 10am and 4pm, 8pm and 11pm and 2am to 6am.

Fares still won't be as low as Uber's. However, many people will be more than happy to pay the premium for the knowledgeable driver, the security and the greater speed from being able to use bus lanes.

"If this scheme gets more people to choose the professional service offered by our members it's a win-win situation," Steven McNamara, the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) tells the Mirror.

"We also know that some Londoners want the price of their black cab ride fixed in advance and we're very happy to bring that feature to more people. Riders can now know in advance exactly how much their journey will cost."

Gett says that 6,000 of London's 25,000 black cab drivers have signed up for the scheme so far.

Most black cab journeys in London are for under a mile or two, with customers opting for minicabs for longer journeys. The black cab drivers hope the new initiative will help beat off competition here too.

But it's Uber that's really worrying them. Founded in San Francisco in 2009, it now operates in about 250 cities in 50 countries around the world, starting up in the UK in 2012. Anyone can sign up as a driver, and set their own hours and prices.

However, the app has outraged licensed cab drivers around the world, and has led to a spate of lawsuits and demonstrations.

In May, parts of London were brought to a standstill after black cabs blocked the streets around Transport for London's headquarters in Southwark.

There are currently around 15,000 Uber drivers on London's streets, and the company says it expects that number to rise to 42,000 by next March - more than double the number of black cabs.

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