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Free app launches in London

Micky Harris in front of black cab

A free taxi-hailing app has been launched in London to help good causes as ride-hailing apps battle it out to get the capital’s cabbies to join their platforms.

The move comes as Uber expands its global operations and revealed plans to add all licenced taxis on to its platform by 2025 – something many drivers in the UK’s capital want to resist.

As tech giants try to attract cabbies, the free Unify London app was not developed to compete with Uber or its rivals. Instead, it was created as a tribute to the wife of London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer Micky Harris, who used a legacy left by Barbara to create the app.

Barbara regularly joined Micky on Taxi Charity trips to the continent and left instructions that he should use the legacy to support the cab trade and help charities run by taxi drivers.

In fulfilling her wishes, Micky wanted the app to be different to anything else currently available and made sure there is no surge pricing, no hidden fees or cancellations. And he wanted cab drivers to receive the full metered fare.

As well as this, each time the app is used, good causes including the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, The London Taxi Drivers’ Charity for Children, The Albany Taxi Charity and the Magical Taxi Tour will benefit.

Micky said: “Adjusting to life without Barbara has been incredibly difficult. However, when Barbara passed, she left me a wonderful legacy, asking me to use the money to unify the cab trade.

“Understanding and formulating how best to use her legacy has undoubtedly given me something to get up for every day; I knew that I wanted to combine Barbara’s love of the Taxi Charity with her wishes to support the cab trade and the result is the Unify London App.

“While I was developing the app, it was very important to me that the driver received the full metered fare and that the customer is never charged more than the TfL regulated booking fee. What the trade needed was a fair app where the drivers got all the fare.”

Micky stressed that the aim is to benefit the cab trade. He said: “This isn’t a commercial venture. The idea for the app has come from the heart of someone who cares for the trade made possible by the wonderful and unexpected legacy from Barbara.”

While support for Unify is growing among cabbies, many seem less keen on Uber’s plans, as shown in an article in Taxi Point.

Responding to an interview in the Telegraph, an LTDA spokesperson told TAXI Newspaper: “Last week, Uber’s new boss in London, Andrew Brem, suggested that he would like to see the option to book licensed taxis back on the Uber app. Most people will remember how tough things were for the cab trade in 2015 at the height of Uber’s invasion of London.

“Now, in an interview in the Telegraph, Brem, has said he would like to see it happening in London again. We all know this will never happen in London, but it seems now they are struggling to compete, having been forced to raise their prices (from the heavily subsidised, artificially low fares we saw back in 2015), they are considering their options. No thanks, Uber.”

Taxi Point reports that Uber rival Bolt has also begun trying to recruit black cab drivers on to its Bolt Black Cab platform by offering drivers with low commission rates.

Demand for taxis in the capital continues to grow and there are reported difficulties in filling vacancies.

The decision they will have to make is which ride-hailing app is better for them.

London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer Micky Harris. Picture: Taxi Charity

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