London's transport authority is "urgently" investigating Taxify, a ride-hailing startup which launched in the capital this week to take on Uber.
“Taxify is not a London licenced private hire operator. We are urgently investigating the nature and extent of its activities and will take action where appropriate," a Transport for London spokesperson told City A.M..
It follows concerns from across the industry and politicians over the way Taxify is licenced, as revealed yesterday by City A.M..
The startup, backed by China's Didi Chuxing, said that it operates under the licence of an existing operator in London which it acquired.
"Taxify is a technology platform that provides an app-based booking service to City Drive Services, a fully licenced operator in London. We look forward to resolving any outstanding issues with TfL very soon," the startup told City A.M. yesterday after concerns were raised.
It has been accused of flouting rules by black cab drivers and Labour MP Wes Streeting, while at least one other minicab operator is understood to have contacted TfL and City Hall about the matter.
A spokesperson for the Mayor yesterday told City A.M. TfL would take "robust enforcement action against any provider or driver found to be breaching licencing rules".
Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly member and deputy chair of City Hall's transport committee has called for a "step change" in how the taxi and private hire trades are regulated and rules enforced.
The latest row comes as another startup, Daimler-backed Via, said it plans to set up in London.
TfL has been forced to consider increasing the fee for operating private hire vehicles in London to cover the cost of regulation and enforcement as the number of PHVs has rocketed in recent years with the arrival of Uber.
Uber and Addison Lee have both had their licences renewed for months rather than the usual five years as a result. The former is due for renewal again at the end of the month.
And TfL last week told 13,000 Uber drivers they must undergo fresh criminal checks after deciding that it will no longer accept ones done by third-party providers other than its own contractor.
"We're not anti-competion or innovation," said Streeting, who leads taxi all-party parliamentary Group (APPG).
"it's in everyone's interest to have a competitive market, but we need to make sure it is fairly regulated and there is a level playing field and to keep people safe. We've seen too many examples in recent months of seeing those rules flouted."