Three major south London private hire operators have formed a technology-based alliance in a bid to compete with Uber.
Parker Car Service, The Keen Group and Greyhound Cars have worked with computer supplier Cordic to set up a system that means any bookings that are not picked up are offered to the other two partners via their booking systems.
The three operators have a combined “virtual fleet” of 1,250 cars, covering most of south London and the City of London. “If a job goes unclaimed for more than three minutes, the system looks for all available cars from all three fleets, and fires the job to the nearest available car,” said Parker’s director Neil Martin. “It gives us a way to look collectively at how we can compete with Uber, while maintaining our independence,” Martin added.
He commented that the system only worked because the three companies had approached the alliance with an open and transparent mindset. And he said it was important that all companies maintained a similar standard of customer service and driver presentation. And while the three companies’ fares were not totally harmonised, they were close enough to allow one company to carry out work for the other at the other’s fares.
So far the system was working, and there was “not so much overlap as expected”, Martin added.
He said that he was interested in adding other operators - especially in north London - to the alliance. The only requirement would be that any new partners would have to be Cordic users.
Parker’s managing director, Joe Polley, said the alliance was something he’d wanted to see for a long time. “I’ve been pushing for relationships between cab companies for decades,” he said.