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In its latest stab at using data to create more efficient mass transit, transport app Citymapper is teaming with taxi-hailing app Gett to let travelers in London carpool using the city’s iconic black cabs.
Starting on September 25, Project Black Bus will let users hire black cabs for carpooled rides that travel along a fixed route during rush hour for a flat fee. Unlike with a traditional bus service, passengers can get on and off anywhere along the route.
The Gett partnership is Citymapper’s second effort in London this year aimed at offering alternative transit options to areas determined by the company to be underserved by existing mass transit. In May, it tested a pop-up bus route in the city that was based on user data. That resulted in the debut this month of an officially sanctioned commercial bus service running in East London on weekend nights.
Transport for London’s imprimatur should give Citymapper’s services a much smoother ride than ride-hailing app Taxify experienced when it attempted to launch in London on September 5. Taxify’s rollout was derailed days later when TfL revoked the Estonia-based company’s operating license. (TfL’s decision is currently under appeal.)
Taxify is attempting to squeeze into a market already crowded by the likes of Uber, Gett and mytaxi (formerly Hailo). Nonetheless, rising usage of transport-related apps seems enough of a lure for companies to overlook the difficulties rivals like Uber have encountered when going up against entrenched taxi sector interests.
[Editor's Note: Since this article's publication, TfL has suspended Uber's license to operate in London as of September 30 on the grounds that the company's "approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility." Uber has 21 days to appeal the decision.]
According to Office for National Statistics (ONS) – UK data from April 2017, nearly a quarter of consumers in Great Britain had used a digital platform like Uber for transportation services in the preceding 12 months.
In a sprawling city like London, where personal car ownership is relatively low, it’s not unrealistic to think usage rates for transport apps are even higher than the 22% average across Great Britain.
Citymapper’s wasn’t the only effort with the goal of modernizing London’s mass transit system in some way that was announced this week. Transport ticket and shopping receipt advertising firm Ticketmedia signed a deal with taxi payment technology provider Verifone Media to offer advertising on passengers' printed ride receipts.
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