On Friday, Transport for London announced that controversial ride-hailing app Uber is set to lose its licence to operate in the capital. Uber is preparing to appeal the decision, and it’s unclear what the long-term result is likely to be. In the short-term, black cabs are likely to count this a significant victory in their battle to eliminate the disruptive firm.
But can they count on customers returning to their ranks? Several relatively unknown UK startups have their eyes on the ride-sharing business, and with established firms like Addison Lee already popular, it’s likely that cab drivers are set to face further discomfort in the future. Here are our top five picks from the high-growth taxi alternatives.
1. Electric Blue
Electric Blue, founded just two years ago, operates a fleet of of licensed electric taxis which can be booked via an app. It’s also building an entire network of electic car charging stations across the UK, and seeks to drive the country towards zero emissions via a ‘support package’ to help existing taxi drivers upgrade their vehicles.
Amount raised: £150k
GoCarShare does what it says on the tin: offers a car-sharing service for eco-conscious travellers looking to find a good deal. Similar in function to the French website BlaBlaCar, GoCarShare was accelerated by Wayra in 2013 – four years after its founding in 2009.
Amount raised: £140k
MUTE allows customers to rent eco-friendly electric scooters and mopeds via an app. The company’s target market is inevitably smaller than that of GoCarShare, though within cities car ownership is already losing appeal – perhaps more compact vehicles are likely to see a growth in popularity. MUTE is also very young, having been founded at the end of 2015, but it has raised a significant amount of capital relative to the other taxi alternative startups on this list.
Amount raised: £1.03m
Rentecarlo has developed an online platform that brings together car owners and those looking to rent one. The platform is not designed for car-sharing, but instead follows an ‘Airbnb’ model, and partners with insurance group Admiral – as well as vetting prospective renters – to ensure confidence from car lenders.
Amount raised: £225k
Finally: customisable bus routes. Vieni allows strangers from across a region or country to collaborate online to book one of its buses or coaches and determine the route. The firm envisages users ranging from festivalgoers to holidaymakers, and will allow events operators to offer deals on bookings and activities via the platform.
Amount raised: no equity investment yet
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