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Uber olive branch giving taxis free use of its app branded a 'publicity stunt' by London cabbies


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

February 9, 2016 | 3 min read

Ride-hailing app Uber has been drawn into a war of words with rivals after it extended what it professed to be an olive branch to taxi drivers pushing back against the disruptive app.

On Tuesday it informed cabbies they could plug into its app and find fares for free for a period of 12 months despite the groups being seemingly at war over the legal status of the app in the city of London.

As a group of blackcabs crowdfund a court appeal against Uber's TFL licence, the company at least looked to be hoping to bridge the gap between the parties.

Hoping to put to rest claims that the app gives Uber drivers “unfair competition” the app was opened up to the black cab drivers, with any fee waived for at least 12 months.

Jo Bertram, regional general manager of Uber in the UK, said: that “London's cabs are famous the world over because they are an iconic part of our city's transport infrastructure…We believe that black cabs and Uber can coexist."

Lashing back, Steve McNamara, representing the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), said: "With over 15,000 cabbies registered with specific taxi-hailing apps like Gett and Hailo, we would be amazed if any drivers decide to take up Uber's offer.

"Licensed taxis in London offer the best service in the world and as a membership group, the LTDA doesn't like the way Uber treats its drivers and customers or its... tax arrangements."

The move was branded “just another PR stunt from a company that spends £250,000 every month on lobbying and PR".

The LTDA tweeted against the company earlier in the week releasing the below critique of Uber’s new logo.

Time will tell whether many black cab drivers hook into Uber’s system.

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