Uber vs black cab: Who wins among London passengers? - Brand Index

Stephan Shakespeare
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Black cab protest earlier this month: It's fare game for Uber and black cabs (Source: Getty)

London Mayor Boris Johnson’s fiery tête-à-tête with a black cab driver certainly provided plenty of fodder for the headline writers, but what does the exchange tell us about the nature of the taxi industry?

And what does YouGov data tell us about attitudes towards Uber, in particular? Uber has shaken the industry to its core. The app promises to connect drivers with customers at the touch of a button, the aim put plainly is to transform the way we travel.

There is however, a simmering resentment between the new – Uber – and the old – traditional London black cabs. Black cab drivers have protested about Uber’s tax practises, as well as asserting that the app is a taximeter, which only licensed cab drivers are allowed to use, which contradicts Uber’s current stance.

They want the same regulation forced upon Uber as they experience themselves.

Uber drivers are also accused of increasing pollution and congestion in London. YouGov research from last year revealed that 62 per cent of Londoners said Uber vehicles should be regulated in the same way.

Uber has always said that they are great for consumers. Indeed, prices are usually lower compared with black cabs, and often easily accessible, but for some there remains a certain solidarity with traditional black cab drivers.

YouGov’s Buzz score indicates whether a respondent has heard something positive or negative about a brand in the last two weeks. Looking specifically at London, Uber’s score currently stands at minus seven, while their value score is in the black at six, highlighting the dilemma consumers may feel between convenience and conscience.

The danger for the traditional cab drivers is that consumers have already had a taste of lower prices and increased interactivity, and will not be willing to go back to the now archaic system.

Does the black cab industry need to assimilate some of the convenience and price advantages of Uber’s model, whilst maintaining its part of London appeal? With expansion into other UK cities planned, this is a battle which will run and run.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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