Uber alternatives in London: From Bolt to Wheely, the next-generation of UK taxi apps to know
Cast your mind back to 2011. In order to get around London you might have hailed a black cab or booked one over the phone using a service like Addison Lee.
Then Uber arrived and completely changed the game, allowing you to book a car almost instantly using its app.
Whilst there are 3.5 million Uber users in London, the tech company’s reign as London’s top transport app is waning. Transport for London (TfL) has denied the company a new permit to operate in the city following concerns about its ability to identify its drivers.
This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to hail a car from the app in the capital, however, as Uber can appeal the decision and continue to operate.
But, if you do feel uneasy about riding in an unlicensed vehicle then luckily there are a wealth of ride-hailing apps on the scene ready to take you anywhere you want.
Here’s everything you need to know about the next-generation London ride-hailing apps and how they work.
Formerly Taxify, Bolt arrived in London in 2017 before being kicked out a few days later by TfL for failing to acquire the right licensing. It relaunched as Bolt earlier this year and is already starting to pick up momentum, with over 30,000 drivers on its books.
Rides start with a £2.50 base fee, plus £1.25 per mile and £0.15 per minute.
In its native Estonia, Bolt has recently launched a food delivery service in Tallin, just like Uber Eats. It’s going to be expanding the services to Latvia, Lithuania and South Africa, but no word on a London launch just yet.
Kabbee is a little different to the other Uber alternatives in that instead of having its own cars and services, the app pulls together over 50 cab fleets from across the city to utilise London’s minicab services.
It specialises in airport rides and promises to be 28 per cent cheaper than Uber. In addition, it offers fixed fairs and no surge pricing.
Kabbee on App Store and Google Play
French start-up Kapten is backed by Daimler and BMW so you know it means business. It launched in London in May this year, offering 50 per cent off new rides and says that, in general, its rides are 20 per cent cheaper than its competitors.
One way that Kapten is able to keep fares lower for customers is that it covers the congestion charge on behalf of its drivers, saving riders at least £2 per trip. It also operates a loyalty programme, rewarding customers with free rides and access to new benefits the more they use the app.
Kapten now has 16,000 drivers in London and is steadily catching up to Uber’s 45,000.
A fan of the Uber Pool feature? Then ViaVan is one for you. A joint venture between ride-sharing start-up Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan is like an on-demand bus so you don’t feel guilty by clogging up the roads for a solo journey.
Since launching in London last April, ViaVan has provided more than seven million rides as well as saving three million vehicle kilometres thanks to its pooling feature. In July, TfL granted the venture a license for an additional three years so it’s certainly here to stay.
If you’re looking for a little luxury when it comes to hailing a ride, then Wheely is the one for you. The preferred ride of the fashion crowd, the company launched in Paris in September to coincide with Paris Fashion Week.
Based in London, Wheely doesn’t work with taxis or cabs, but instead offers a chauffeur car service, with all its drivers picked through an accreditation process to ensure they offer the highest level of service. As well, each ride takes place in a new Mercedes-Benz to make your morning ride to work that little bit slicker.
Pronounced ‘zooks’, Xooox is a little like Kabbee in that it pulls together a list of available taxis and private hires in London. Customers are able to compare prices and times from different firms, as well as car size and even emissions output, before booking a ride in the app.
It works for drivers too: they don’t have to pay commission to Xooox for rides, and are able to set their own prices and travel boundaries.