In an era when social distancing, wearing masks, and extreme hygiene had been normalised, one could expect a negative impact on the Ride-hailing app market. Apparently, this expectation is not unfounded. According to a report by ABI Research, the ride-hailing market shrunk by 59% in the first half of 2020, following a 14% growth in 2019.
Even before the pandemic, some authorities argued —and they’re still arguing— the ride-hailing business model was controversial and not profitable. Yet, Uber is leading the global ride-hailing app market, and others follow.
There are nine ride-hailing apps actively serving the people of the UK as of August 2021.
Best Ride-hailing and Taxi Apps List
From San Fransisco Bay Area to the world, Uber is at the centre of many discussions. Still, it started a new urban transportation habit, operating in nearly 70 countries and over 10,000 cities. The company lost its license in London, but it managed to take back the right to run its business in London streets.
The UK is not the only country Uber had disputes with governing bodies. Turkey, France, Denmark, Hungary, and Bulgaria are just a few countries where Uber and local authorities came face-to-face.
Despite the company’s conflicts with higher administrations, riders are mostly happy with the service because it provides an accessible and —most of the time— a cheaper alternative to conventional taxis.
Bolt is from Tallinn, Estonia, and it’s Uber’s biggest competitor in Europe. Riders from over 40 countries and 300 cities worldwide are enjoying Bolt’s ride-hail experience.
Similar to Uber, the company also faced hardships to operate in London. Called Taxify back then, Transport for London forced Bolt to shut down its business in 2017. Then, it relaunched in June 2019 and have been operating since.
Another similarity between Bolt and Uber is they both pivoted to food delivery during the pandemic. For now, Bolt Food is not active anywhere in the UK, but Uber Eats is one of the UK’s most popular food delivery apps.
India-based Ola is one of the Uber alternative ride-hailing apps Londoners turned to during the absence of Uber. Serving over a billion passengers in over 250 cities, the company is a serious competitor to Uber in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and India.
Ola’s services are not limited to ride-hailing. They’re expanding to electric-scooter sharing, carpooling, car rental, and corporate travel. It follows a similar pattern to Uber and Bolt for growth but doesn’t deliver food.
Another comparable aspect of Ola and Bolt is their goals to run greener businesses. Both companies focus on spreading the use of electric vehicles and reducing their carbon footprint.
Formerly known as ViaVan, New York-based Via claims that it “transforms public transit, from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network.” Commuters from over 20 countries and 400 cities are using Via to get to their destinations.
Via’s business model deviates from the abovementioned companies. Simply put, Via partners with local transport authorities to enhance public and urban transportation systems. The app’s algorithm matches several passengers heading in the same direction and allows them to book a single vehicle. Not a preferable option in pandemic circumstances, but definitely a better choice for the environment.
Want a classy ride? Wheely provides the fanciest rides in London. Wheely only operates in London, Paris, and seven cities in Russia as of August 2021, but they focus on a niché target with luxurious cars and experienced chauffeurs. So it’s safe to say that the founders Anton Chirkunov and Pavel Bocharov are not interested in rapid growth.
Suppose you prefer an elegant experience every once in a while; professional drivers in exquisite Mercedes cars and vans are at your service with Wheely.
The London-based company also offers business partnerships if you need a fleet or airport transfers for your executives.
xooox (pronounced ‘zooks’) is another company from London but doesn’t target luxury seekers. Instead, it takes dynamic pricing to the next level and offers riders several pricing options and ETAs in real-time.
xooox also claims to be friendly to the environment and its drivers. Considering the founder, Darren Tenney, was an ex-taxi driver, the company’s policies make more sense. “xooox places drivers in control of their livelihoods. For too long, drivers have had two options – find their own fares without the help of technology or be enslaved to an algorithm that dictates how they work. With xooox, drivers are in charge of the tech, not the other way around.” Says Tenney in a press release.
Headquartered in Germany and a subsidiary of Daimler, Free Now operates over 100 cities across Europe. The company is a product of a merger between “mytaxi” and one of the leading ride-hailing apps in the UK, Hailo. Its ambitious growth strategy resulted in its acquisition of Kapten in 2020, and you can either call a black taxi or hire private vehicles.
Passengers currently from London, Brighton, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, Derby and Leicester have the privilege to use Free Now in the UK. In addition, the company recently extended its services by offering e-scooter share in several areas of London.
London-based Gett started providing Ground Transportation Management services to enterprises in 2010. Currently, it’s an app that allows corporate fleet, ride-hailing, taxi, and limo providers on one platform.
You don’t have the option to hail private cars like similar apps, but you can call a black taxi with a couple of taps in London.
The company declares that all the UK rides are carbon-neutral. Its aim is to contribute to the reduction of emissions.
In 2016, Gett acquired Radio Taxis and the other two brands its parent company has. One of which is Xeta, also a black cab company, and the other is One Transport which is a logistics platform that offers vehicle rental services to businesses.
Addison Lee is the oldest company on our list. Founded in 1975, it provides private vehicles to passengers and delivery services to businesses and people.
Whether you’re looking for a casual ride, business trip, airport transfer, or exclusive first-class transportation services, Addison Lee has something to offer.
The company recently signed a deal with black taxi operator ComCab, making it London’s largest private hire and taxi firm.
As a reaction to other taxi or ride-hailing apps that are corporate, Taxiapp is founded and run by cabbies themselves. They are a not for profit organisation. The main purpose of Taxiapp is to prevent the legendary black cabs from going out of business.
We all know that GPS is not always reliable. So, Taxiapp’s one advantage over other apps that provide a similar service is the drivers’ “Knowledge”. The Knowledge has been part of the requirements for taxi drivers since 1865. In simplest terms, it is the knowledge of London’s complex road network. Drivers must master the Knowledge thoroughly in order to get their licences.
Taxiapp is non-profit and it is only funded through membership. It requires no extra fees or surprise charges for both the passengers and the drivers. All of Taxiapp’s cabs are wheelchair accessible and they welcome assistance dogs, too. Also, they are getting greener as more and more black cabs are now electric.
They claim that they are not big but no one knows the London streets as they do!
Cab:app is another cabbie-founded hailing app. It operates in over 90 location in UK and Ireland with black cabs in the former and licensed taxis in the latter. Their business model is based on loyalty and rewards.
In addition to giving their taxi drivers chance to become co-owners in the company through cashback profit share, cab:app rewards their customers with cab:miles for rides and sharing with friends. They also donate to their charity partners.
Value, Accessibility, Safety, and Convenience are their main features.
Similar to Taxiapp, the passengers are at the capable hands of cabbies who have the Knowledge. This is the value that they provide, getting you where you want to go through the most direct route and with fixed prices to certain destinations. Furthermore, passengers can choose their accessibility options before travelling, such as being a wheelchair user or having hearing loss.
The app also allows you to share your booking details and track your cab. You can also communicate with your cabbie via messages and phone calls. Passengers can hail their rides when they need them or book them in advance. Payments can be made both with cash and with a credit/debit card, and receipts are emailed to you.