FarePilot Plots Move On London PHV Market

Royal Dutch Shell has made plans to enter London’s transport market with a potential new direction for its subsidiary after holding meetings with drivers about a new service.

FarePilot has applied for a private hire license with Transport for London, which last year controversially stripped Uber of its private hire license.

According to The Telegraph, the company, which has been helping drivers from a variety of companies find business hotspot areas rather than allocate rides via their own app, applied for the license in June.

Energy companies are seeking to diversify as governments begin their crackdown on petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric and hybrid vehicles. This has seen a shift towards PHVs using the models which do not incur congestion charges and high vehicle tax.

It is a distinct change of direction for the company, which operates out of Shell’s London office, as it would see itself go up against Uber rather than work with its drivers to help them make more money and reduce emissions.

According to reports, the start-up may not go as far as a direct competitor to Uber, but could launch an “aggregator” service that makes its large pool of drivers available to existing minicab operators, giving them the scale to compete against Uber.

“FarePilot does not currently have a licence to operate as a private hire operator in London and does not currently provide driving jobs,” a spokesman said.

“Drivers often ask us however if we could further help them by giving them driving jobs and this is something that we are investigating but no decisions have been taken to go live with such a product. Should this materialise, we will ensure that all the correct commitments – including licences and procedures – are in place prior to going live.”

FarePilot is not the only company looking to exploit the TfL decision regarding Uber with US rival Lyft and Estonia’s Taxify considering launching in London.

Fareed Baloch, Chief Operating Officer of Zoom.taxi said, “At first glance people may think this is a good move for the industry but in reality what we are looking at in the UK market, particularly in cities like London, is the development of an oligopolistic market.

“This is no better for drivers or passengers than the current system and does not take us closer to the competitive market which would see greater efficiencies, allocation of resources and competitive prices for passengers whilst allowing drivers to earn a living wage.”



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