New Old Street app to challenge Uber and black cabs
14:35 11 June 2014
A Tech City start-up has joined the assault on London’s cabbies, advertising fares that are 70 per cent cheaper.
Funryde is a mobile phone app which matches drivers with those looking for cheap travel in the city.
Its emergence coincides with the feud between cabbies and US tech giant Uber which has seen the London Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) bring the capital’s streets to a standstill today over claims the company is illegally using a meter system.
The Funryde app, which launched in February, charges an average of less than £1 a mile, but its founders say taking on black cab drivers is simply business.
“Personally I don’t know why the black cab drivers are so angry,” said Bassem Barake, co-founder of Funryde.
“The people who work for Uber are licensed taxi drivers, you already have a lot of big minicab companies in London, Uber have just taken control.
“I think our app will make taxi drivers angry but it’s a totally different experience.
“You might be picked up by a doctor or an engineer and you can meet new people and talk about your interests.
“We’re even looking at using Facebook to match people with similar interests or mutual friends.”
The app, which is free to download, sees drivers thoroughly vetted with serious or persistent road offenders unable to act as chauffeurs.
Funryde also has a rating system for both drivers and passengers, which allows other users to see how reliable they are.
Drivers are still covered by their insurance policy, as they’re are only subsidising the cost of petrol, rather than making profit.
“At the moment the drivers are not allowed to make any money, which is what makes it so cheap,” said Mr Barake.
“Our end goal is to make a deal with an insurance company so that the drivers are able to make a profit margin, so that we can attract more drivers.
“You can have 100,000 passengers but if you don’t have enough drivers it doesn’t work.”
Funryde only has about 15 drivers so far, despite the app reaching more than 1,000 downloads.
Former Mayor of Islington, Cllr Rupert Perry, has been a black cab driver for nine years. He said apps like Uber and Funryde may be cheaper than black cabs at certain points of the day but could not compete at peak times.
“There will be a market for these sort of companies with people wanting to save a bit of money and founders wanting to become the next online billionaire,” he said.
“Good luck to them. But black cabs are still the safest and most trusted option. You have a licensed driver who knows London like the back of their hand.”