Uber launches car pool service in London

Taxi app Uber has launched a new service for Londoners, allowing them to share journeys and cut costs as well as emissions.

The new car-pooling service, UberPOOL, allows Uber users to share lifts with other people using the app. UberPOOL will allow up to three people to share a car, with each passenger saving up to 25 per cent of the standard fare.

Besides the financial benefit of share- taxi rides, the service is also designed to cut down on inefficient journeys by reducing road mileage and vehicle emission. The company also believes the idea will help reduce the number of cars on the road, reducing congestion.

‘We could materially reduce the cost for riders, help cut mileage and emissions and – as the cost of convenient, reliable, on-demand transport comes down – ultimately take cars off the road by making the need to own your own car a thing of the past. Not only that but UberPOOL means drivers have more fares, more of the time – so everyone benefits. That makes it the best choice for your driver, your wallet and your city,’ Uber said in its statement.

The UberPOOL scheme was first launched in San Francisco, where it now accounts for more than half of all Uber trips in the city.

According to Jo Bertram, Uber’s general manager in the UK, the pool service is a potential ‘game-changer for a city where a million people still drive to work each day with nobody else in the car’ – The Telegraph cited in a report.

The service was launched in London on Friday, December 4. The UberPOOL service will initially only be available for journeys that start in central London or at Heathrow.

The move comes as Transport for London (TfL) is considering new regulations for private-hire cars. The proposals put forward by TfL in September include a compulsory five-minute wait time after ordering a car, the ability to book a ride a week in advance, and set fares before the journey, among others.

Edinburgh Airport changes drop-off area for better customer experience

Edinburgh Airport has announced the modification of its terminal drop-off area to serve increased passenger numbers, enhance service and to make it easier for drivers, while alleviating congestion.

The changes are introduced as the airport continually seeks feedback from customers, with feedback that taxis using the drop-off zone to wait for pick-ups are causing congestion.

As part of the changes that are being implemented through the summer, the drop-off area has been reconfigured to cut down on queues, maintain the availability of blue badge spaces and encourage better traffic flow.

A new separate pick-up zone has been created next to the drop-off area. A separate entrance and exit to the pick-up zone will make it easier for vehicles to come and go without having to drive towards the terminal around the main airport approach road, the airport said.

Additionally, to lessen congestion in the drop-off area, the time bands on charges have been changed so that drivers do not stay longer. From September 01, drivers who spend between five and 10 minutes in the drop-off area will be charged £3. The £1 charge remains for the majority of drivers who pass through in five minutes or less.

The airport added that the free drop-off area in the airport’s long stay car park will remain available for those who don’t wish to pay the £1 charge. Also, blue badge holders will be unaffected by the new charging regime.

Richard Townsend, Head of Retail and Property at Edinburgh Airport, said: ‘At Edinburgh Airport we work hard to make sure that we’re developing our services and facilities to meet the expectations of our passengers and airlines.

‘These changes are necessary to make sure that, as our airport continues to grow, we offer our customers a convenient, efficient pick-up and drop-off experience.

‘A free drop-off zone will still be available but the one million vehicles which use the drop-off area on a yearly basis show that people still want to use this facility.’

In June, 87 percent of passengers that used the drop-off area passed through in 3.5 minutes, the airport noted.


The Queen’s Terminal unveils ‘London Taxi’ sculpture

The Queen’s Terminal, London Heathrow’s Terminal 2, has unveiled a new sculpture – ‘London Taxi’ – by London artist Benedict Radcliffe.

The key attraction of Terminal 2’s departure lounge, the ‘London Taxi’ is inspired by the iconic design of London’s black taxis. The sculpture, which presents a distinct representation of Britain, is featured alongside other British brands as well as Richard Wilson’s sculpture Slipstream at the Terminal’s entrance. It was manufactured in the artist’s workshop in Shoreditch, London and installed overnight at Heathrow.

Radcliffe’s first piece of permanent public art, the ‘London Taxi’ will bid farewell to around 20 million passengers at Terminal 2 every year.

Normand Bovin, Heathrow’s chief operating officer, said: ‘As the UK’s only hub airport, we have a unique opportunity to showcase British talent to the world. I am delighted that we have chosen a London artist and given new talent a platform in front of 20 million passengers a year from more than 50 destinations.’

Paul Brennan, Taxi driver and member of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said: ‘I’m delighted that the famous black cab has been recognised in such an innovative way. Benedict’s done a fantastic job of creating a piece of art representing the London Taxi and we’re thrilled that millions of passengers coming through Heathrow every year will get to see such an iconic part of British culture.’

Benedict Radcliffe remarked: ‘Synonymous with London for more than half a century, the FX4 first appeared on our streets in 1958 and has served London and many other towns and cities in the UK ever since. I am incredibly proud to have been selected by Heathrow for a permanent display at Heathrow’s Terminal 2, the opportunity to exhibit at the UK’s hub airport has been a great honour for me.’

Benedict Radcliffe, who had graduated from the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow, is an emerging London artist commissioned by brands including Paul Smith, JCB and Range Rover. His works have ranged from installations inspired by manufacturing, fashion, technology and transport.


London cabs top annual Hotels.com global taxi survey

London taxis have been voted the best taxis in the world for the sixth year in a row, according to the annual global taxi survey from Hotels.com, an online accommodation-booking brand.

London received 22 percent of the votes, followed by New York City in second place with 10 percent and Tokyo in third place with 9 percent. London’s iconic black cabs won nearly a quarter of the vote in the survey, which covered 2,683 respondents across 30 countries. The survey saw Berlin reclaim its position in the top-five list, in fourth place with 5 percent, and Madrid, Mexico City and Amsterdam tied in fifth with 4 percent.

Of the 30 countries surveyed, London topped the list across five of the seven categories, including cleanliness (23 percent), knowledge of the area (27 percent) and quality of driving (30 percent). But while London cabs were also voted top for friendliness (23 percent), the category was deemed least important to travellers.

Safety remains the number one priority for travellers, and London also topped the list for safest drivers with almost a quarter of the votes.

In terms of value for money, both New York City and Bangkok taxis registered a tie at 20 percent; however the latter failed to make it to the overall top five this year. New York’s famous yellow taxis achieved the top spot when it came to availability, with 23 percent of the vote.

The global survey also found that people tended to text or email while in a cab (19 percent), while sleeping was the second most popular activity at 15 percent, followed by eating at 10 percent and kissing at 9 percent.

Nearly 53 percent of travellers would choose a taxi as the desired mode of transport from airport to hotel, while the most important feature in a taxi is WiFi (14 percent), beating both the radio and music. The biggest complaint from UK travellers was taxi drivers taking a longer route than necessary to the destination.

Alison Couper, senior director of communications for the Hotels.com brand, said, ‘Six years running and London cabs are still leading the pack when it comes to travel – it’s great to see! Our iconic black Hackney Carriages and their well informed cabbies can pride themselves on being globally recognised for their expert knowledge and quality of driving, maybe next year we can top the list for all categories!’

Heathrow to provide lounge for tired cab drivers

Heathrow Airport will offer a business-class lounge for professional cab drivers, enabling them to recharge between journeys, Metro has reported.

The move comes as efforts are underway to create Britain’s first members-only club for professional drivers, which includes a restaurant, sleep/office pods, showers and a roof garden. It will also house a gym and other recreational facilities. Drivers will be able to monitor airport arrivals via TV screens provided around the building, which will be located at a site less than ten minutes from all five terminals.

According to research conducted for the project, 340,000 licensed drivers in Britain, generating almost £8 billion for the economy, carry out more than a billion journeys annually. And nearly 80,000 passengers passing through Heathrow’s terminals every day arrive there by cab or other private hire vehicle, meaning that thousands of drivers are in and around the airport at any time of the day.

The business plan is the brainchild of Jon Jordan, founder of the Institute of Professional Drivers and Chauffeurs (IoPDC), and has been under development for two years.

‘I see a genuine gap in the market for an industry hub of this sort,’ says Jordan, who has worked in the chauffeur industry for more than 20 years. ‘Drivers will be able to relax in safety and comfort but also to network, find out about job opportunities and keep up to date with industry news.’

Scheduled to open at the end of next year, and provisionally known as the Professional Drivers’ Club, the facility will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Membership will be available to anyone who drives professionally and carries passengers, including black cabs, minicabs, chauffeurs and other taxi services. Details of membership costs have not been revealed, but according to Jordan it should be less than the price of a cup of coffee per day, the Metro said.

Jordan said the club would address the problem of parking and waiting at the airport. Conflicts with local communities have been a recurrent problem for many years.

The club will also help improve the health of professional drivers, who often spend long hours in their vehicles. ‘Prevalent conditions include diabetes, obesity and sleep apnea (breathing problems). Dehydration is also very common because a lack of toilets means many drivers don’t take in enough fluids.’

The Heathrow club will consist of a new building on a 2.5-acre site. With up to five levels and a multi-storey car park, it will allow 600 members to be onsite at any time. The club will also provide vehicle services, including a garage for MoT and repair work, and a fuel forecourt.


Taxi drivers in Paris and Rome named the world’s rudest

British holidaymakers have voted taxi drivers in Paris and Rome as the rudest in the world.

According to the survey by airporttransfers.co.uk, cab drivers in the capital cities of France and Italy are seen as the most unhelpful. Their counterparts in holiday destinations such as San Antonio on the Spanish island of Ibiza, Dubai and Magaluf on the island of Majorca are also not polite with their customers, it said.

The survey ranked taxi drivers in Pefkos on the Greek island of Rhodes and the Turkish resort of Marmaris as some of the friendliest in the world. Cabbies in Playa de las Americas in Tenerife, New York and Palma Nova in Majorca are also polite and helpful, it said.

The survey was based on responses from 2,162 UK holidaymakers who had taken an overseas holiday in the last 12 months.

For the question on what they thought made a taxi driver ‘friendly’, 86 per cent of respondents said that it was a ‘talkative’ driver, while 42 per cent also said that a friendly taxi driver would give them advice or knowledge about the local area. When asked who they considered a ‘rude’ taxi driver, 51 per cent said it was someone who was ‘unhelpful.’

‘Taxi rides around the world can be totally different experiences, depending on the time and the place,’ comments Airporttransfers.co.uk managing director Chris Clarkson.

‘You could stumble upon the most helpful taxi driver in the world, who gives you a guided tour of the area you’re in on the way to your end destination, or you could have someone that just grunts in response to anything you say,’ he adds.

Redfern Announces New Taxi Service

Redfern Travel, a UK based travel management company, has launched a new taxi booking service.

The company is offering the service in a partnership with UK based taxi, private hire and executive car services provider, Cabfind.com

Mark Bowers, the joint chief executive officer of Redfern, said, ‘What we have created with Cabfind is essentially a GDS for taxis by pulling together different providers across the UK. It’s just for UK taxis although potentially it could be introduced overseas.

It works from postcode to postcode and is designed as an end-to-end solution. We focused on the UK because we have the central government contract for employees who travel predominantly in the UK.

The new facility also searches for the best available train ticket and best value accommodation for the entire trip.

The system not only saves them time and money, it can now help them better manage their taxi spend. The days of ringing five different cab companies, trying to police taxi use and collecting receipts are long gone.’

The partnership is offering the new cab booking option to clients through its Trips tool. The new service allows travellers to reserve cabs across the whole of the UK, and is intended to make it easier to plan journeys from their homes to a station or airport, as well as to their meeting or event.

Redfern Travel will be launching its newest version of the Trips online booking tool and integrated travel portal, at the 2013 Business Travel Show, to be held in London on February 7 and 8, 2013.

London Cabs Voted the World’s Best in 2012

London cabs have been voted the best taxis in the world, according to an annual global taxi survey conducted by Hotels.com, a US-based travel company and a part of the Expedia group,

Around 11 percent of global travellers who voted in the survey favoured London’s black cabs as the best in the world, followed by those in New York (6.4 percent), Tokyo (5.6 percent), Shanghai (4.8 percent) and Bangkok (4.3 percent).

Travellers voted for the cabs in seven categories, and London cabs took the lead in five of those categories; friendliness, knowledge of the area, cleanliness, safety and quality of driving. New York beat London as the best city for cab availability, and Bangkok topped the list for best value.

Alison Couper, the senior director of communications at Hotels.com, said, ‘It is great news for London to be the home of the best taxis for the fifth year running. London’s iconic black cabs are recognized around the world as being the highest quality and it’s due to the impressive expertise of London taxi drivers that they’re seen to have the best local knowledge compared to any other city in the world.’

The taxi survey also highlighted that around half of all respondents, 56 percent, have fallen asleep in a taxi, while around a fifth of the respondents, or 19 percent, have used the journey to touch up their hair and makeup. Around 26 percent of the people surveyed admitted to having kissed in the backseat of a cab.

Other facts revealed by the survey include that around 15 percent of respondents admitted not tipping their taxi driver, and 39 percent have often rounded the tip off to the next currency unit over the fare. Safety has been voted the most important quality in a cab driver, with their local knowledge and moral values coming next.

The end of an era: say goodbye to the famous NYC taxi

The classic New York yellow taxicab is being phased out.Making way for the modern and more comfortable Nissan mini van.This new addition to the New York city image is far less cool than the iconic yellow taxi, which have featured in many classic movies over the past century.From Breakfast at Tiffany’s staring Audrey Hepburn to Taxi Driver featuring Robert De Niro, the classic taxi has been an iconic of New York for a century.