They are a long way from home – if you consider their home to be London! However, a company who imports cars from around the world has also imported 200 London Cabs aka Black Cabs. These cars will work the streets of Sydney.
The taxi industry in most cities is now under threat from a variety of sources – mostly “ride sharing” systems that aren’t really ride sharing and from inside the industry as well. I have written before about the changes that State Governments have had to make to keep legislation and market forces working in some form of equilibrium – often a difficult task.
The introduction of the Black Cabs has actually been a positive one for Sydney although the system they operate under appears to be a hybrid traditional/modern one. The drivers do not buy a taxi plate, they merely rent the car at a daily rate – in essence like some other taxi companies. The difference for London Taxis is that the driver (who must have a Taxi Driver Authority Licence) is also connected to Rydo, a ride hailing system that competes against Uber, Silver Service and other app based systems. This means that a driver acts like a taxi driver however can switch to a ride sharing scheme when the fares are not available on the street.
GM Cabs, one of the biggest taxi firms in Sydney has now partnered with them to enable even more opportunities to provide more booking abilities.
All the cars are new and unlike all the local cars, are purpose built to be a taxicab – the company that builds them in the UK (owned by Volvo’s owner, Geely) has been making them for decades. They are iconic, whereas all the old Ford Falcons, Holden Commodores, Toyota Camrys or Prius cars have to be converted. As such, a London Taxi is bigger, can take five people in comfort and more luggage.
It seems that everyone is out to get Uber – and ganging up on them to try and reduce their power, however the market is large enough to cope with another entrant, especially one that is hedging its bets! I think this is a positive move and one that passengers enjoy – the company is already planning an expansion in the number of vehicles and would like to have 1,000 by the end of 2018.
It is possible that with the demise of all local car production, the Black Cab will become dominant in all Australian cities and that wouldn’t be bad for anyone.