Those living in London, may well have noticed the App war currently taking place between Black Cab and Mini Cab drivers over the rights and fairness over Apps that undercut the Black Cabs by offering a quicker, cheaper, more responsive service. The Black Cab drivers are up in arms as these Apps, such as Uber or MiniCabster, allegedly offer unregulated drivers the opportunity to undercut the Black Cabs, and apparently compromises passenger safety and security.
Now, when the battle all kicked off with a strike and a blockage of Central London in June, I had little sympathy for the Cabbies. I’ve lived in London for 9 years and I will avoid taking a Black Cab if I can, principally because I find them to be ridiculously overpriced (Black Cab from Camden to home: £40. Swiss Cottage Taxi from Camden to home: £17).
But, today my opinion changed. I had a family emergency this morning which required me to ferry someone from home to the medical centre on St Ann’s Road. I logged into the App, and booked a car to collect at 9.30 however at 9.30 I received a call from the driver, who despite having a GPS app on his phone, was lost about 5 minutes away, and was heading in the wrong direction! And then, to make matters worse, once he collected us, I had to direct him to the medical centre, using basic knowledge of living in London for 9 years.
So, here’s the thing. Black Cab drivers have to pass a test called The Knowledge, which basically requires them to know how to get anywhere within the M25. Can’t pass The Knowledge, you can’t drive a Black Cab. Whilst it would have cost me a lot more to get from home to the medical centre, I know that a) the cabbie would have turned up at the right place, and b) he’d have got us to our destination, stress free, and I could have spent the time reassuring my family member that we were going to get to our destination as quickly as possible.
Ultimately, here’s my advice to the Black Cab drivers. You may not be the cheapest but you have the quality of service and The Knowledge that cannot be beat. Shout it from the rooftops!