In the bustling city of London, getting from one point to another can be both a thrill and a challenge. Fortunately, with the rise of taxi apps, traversing through the city’s busy streets has never been easier. These innovative digital platforms are revolutionising how we experience transport. Here are some of our favourite taxi apps for getting around London.
Founded in 2009, Uber has become a household name globally, including in London. The app-based ride-hailing service uses a smartphone’s GPS to match passengers with nearby drivers, making urban transportation more convenient and efficient than ever.
One of the appealing aspects of Uber is its simplicity. Just download the app, create an account, and you’re ready to book a ride. Enter your destination, choose the type of vehicle you want, and the app will provide a fare estimate. Once you confirm the booking, the app will find a nearby driver and display their location in real time.
Uber’s strength lies in the variety of services it offers. Here’s a quick rundown:
Despite its popularity, Uber has faced criticism and legal battles, particularly in London. Issues regarding driver classification, worker’s rights, and safety have frequently been raised. In 2019, Transport for London (TfL) did not renew Uber’s license due to safety breaches, but Uber won an appeal in 2020 to continue operations with certain conditions.
To address environmental concerns, Uber launched Uber Green in London in 2021, offering rides in fully electric vehicles. This initiative aligns with London’s plan to become a zero-emission city.
Kabbee is a minicab comparison service, making it an essential player in the landscape of London taxi apps.
Unlike single provider apps like Uber or Bolt, Kabbee acts as a gateway to over 50 licensed minicab fleets in London, allowing users to compare prices and choose the service that suits them best.
Kabbee’s user interface is straightforward and intuitive. After downloading the app and creating an account, you just enter your pick-up and drop-off locations. The app then provides a list of quotes from different minicab services, showing prices and arrival times. Once you choose your preferred service, the app books your ride and gives real-time updates.
Kabbee takes pride in offering journeys that are, on average, 28% cheaper than black cabs. Moreover, with its fixed prices, you don’t have to worry about traffic conditions causing a fare increase. This feature, along with the ability to compare prices, makes Kabbee a popular choice for budget-conscious travellers.
All the fleets available on Kabbee are fully licensed, ensuring that users are driven by professional, certified drivers. Furthermore, Kabbee operates a star rating system, allowing you to choose services based on user reviews and giving you peace of mind regarding the quality of the service.
Unlike many other taxi apps, Kabbee offers the ability to book a ride up to three months in advance. This feature is particularly helpful for planning airport transfers or important events.
Now merged with Free Now, Hailo was beloved for its focus on London’s iconic black cabs. Ease of use was its forte, although fares could be higher due to metered pricing.
Gett is a global taxi service that has successfully integrated the convenience of digital booking with the traditional charm of London’s black cabs. With its focus on quality, speed, and reliability, Gett has earned its place among the top London taxi apps.
Like most taxi apps, using Gett is straightforward. After downloading the app and setting up an account, you input your destination, confirm your booking and a driver will be dispatched to your location. One of Gett’s standout features is the ability to book rides instantly or schedule them for later.
Gett prides itself on its quality of service. By exclusively using licensed black cab drivers, Gett ensures its users receive professional and knowledgeable service. All London black cab drivers have passed the Knowledge of London, a comprehensive and rigorous test that cements them as experts in city navigation.
One of the significant advantages of Gett is its upfront pricing structure. Unlike traditional black cabs, which use metered fares, Gett offers fixed pricing for pre-booked rides, meaning you’ll know the exact fare before you even step into the cab.
In a unique collaboration, Gett has partnered with urban mobility app Citymapper to launch a new taxi-bus service in London known as “Smart Ride”. This service operates fixed routes and stops like a bus, with the flexibility and comfort of a taxi, showcasing Gett’s willingness to innovate.
While Gett provides an excellent service, it’s worth noting that its geographic scope is somewhat limited compared to Uber and Bolt. Its service is mostly concentrated in Central London, so for rides further afield, you may need to consider alternative taxi apps.
Bolt is a ride-hailing app that originated in Estonia and is now making waves in London’s taxi app market. Its competitive pricing and emphasis on ethical practices set it apart in the crowded ride-hailing space.
Using Bolt is straightforward and similar to other ride-hailing apps. After downloading the app and creating an account, you simply input your pick-up and destination points. The app then provides a fare estimate, and once you confirm the booking, it matches you with a nearby driver. Bolt also includes in-app messaging, allowing you to communicate with your driver if needed.
One of Bolt’s significant selling points is its affordable fares. By taking a smaller commission from drivers (15% compared to Uber’s 20-25%), Bolt is able to offer lower prices for riders, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious users.
Bolt places a considerable emphasis on driver welfare. As mentioned, they charge drivers a lower commission rate compared to many other ride-hailing services. Additionally, Bolt has a “driver hub” in Chiswick, West London, providing in-person support to drivers, setting a higher standard in driver treatment within the industry.
Maaxi is an innovative taxi app that offers shared rides in black cabs. It’s an economical and eco-friendly choice. However, it might not be the best choice if you’re in a hurry, as waiting for co-riders can extend travel time.
Maaxi operates similarly to other taxi apps. After downloading the app and setting up an account, you enter your journey details. The innovative feature of Maaxi is that it then looks for other users making a similar journey, allowing you to share the ride and split the fare. The app also offers the option to book a ride privately.
The shared ride concept is what sets Maaxi apart. By grouping passengers heading in the same direction, Maaxi allows you to save money while also reducing traffic and emissions. This makes Maaxi an attractive option for budget-conscious and environmentally aware riders.
One limitation of Maaxi is that the shared ride option depends on the availability of other passengers heading in the same direction at the same time. This means that the shared ride feature may not always be available, especially during off-peak hours or in less busy areas.
Founded in 1975, Addison Lee has evolved from a traditional minicab company into a leader in the London taxi app market. With a reputation for reliability, comfort, and professionalism, Addison Lee caters to both individual and corporate customers.
For those who value comfort and luxury, Addison Lee offers premium services with professional drivers and high-end vehicles. Expect higher fares for these enhanced services.
Addison Lee is known for its high-quality service. All their cars are modern, well-maintained, and spacious, ensuring a comfortable ride. The drivers are fully licensed, professionally trained, and known for their courteous behaviour, creating a premium experience for passengers.
While Addison Lee might be slightly more expensive than some other taxi apps, it offers fixed fares, meaning there are no surge prices even during peak times or adverse weather conditions. This transparency and predictability in pricing make Addison Lee a reliable choice.
Blacklane is a global professional driver service that offers an exclusive and luxurious travel experience. Focusing on high-end, pre-booked rides, Blacklane stands out in the London taxi app market with its emphasis on comfort, punctuality, and sophistication.
The process of booking a Blacklane ride is simple. Once you’ve set up an account on the app, you can enter your journey details, choose your preferred vehicle class, and confirm your booking. One unique feature of Blacklane is its airport pick-up service, which includes flight tracking, a complimentary wait time of up to 60 minutes, and a meet-and-greet service.
Blacklane takes pride in its fleet of high-end vehicles. From business class, which includes cars like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, to first-class, featuring luxury vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Blacklane ensures a stylish and comfortable journey.
All Blacklane chauffeurs are licensed and insured, ensuring a safe and professional journey. They’re also local experts who know the best routes to get you to your destination efficiently, adding another layer of convenience to your journey.
Blacklane operates on a fixed pricing model. You’ll know the exact cost of your journey when you book, with all taxes, fees, and tolls included. While Blacklane’s prices are higher than those of regular taxi services, the high standard of service offers good value for the cost.
We are a big fan of Blacklane and use them not only in London but when travelling abroad too.
Via focuses on shared rides in eco-friendly vehicles, making it a sustainable choice. Its service, however, is currently limited to certain zones in London.
Wheely positions itself as a chauffeur service offering luxury and comfort. Although more expensive, its emphasis on personal service and privacy sets it apart.
Free Now, formerly Hailo, has broadened its horizons to include private hire vehicles (PHVs) in addition to black cabs. It offers a balance between price and service quality, although some users miss the black cab exclusive
Making waves in London’s taxi app scene, Ola brings competitive pricing and a large fleet of drivers. It’s quickly becoming a favourite, although its relatively recent launch means it’s still expanding its service area.
Each taxi app in London has its unique strengths and limitations, catering to different needs, preferences, and budgets.
Apps like Bolt and Ola typically offer cheaper fares, whereas Addison Lee, Wheely, and Blacklane lean towards the premium end. Kabbee can help you find the best minicab rates, while Free Now and Gett provide metered and fixed fares, respectively.
While Uber, Free Now, and Bolt have extensive coverage across London, some apps like Via and Gett have limited service areas.
For fans of London’s black cabs, Gett and Free Now are great choices. If you prefer private hire vehicles, Uber, Bolt, and Ola have you covered. For luxury rides, consider Addison Lee or Wheely. If sustainability is a priority, consider Via’s shared rides in eco-friendly vehicles or Maaxi’s shared black cab service.
London taxi apps have undeniably transformed city travel, providing convenient, on-demand mobility for millions. They offer a viable alternative to public transport, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, where safety and comfort are paramount.
However, it’s essential to be aware of potential issues. Reports of overworked drivers and below-minimum wage earnings cast a shadow on the industry. Meanwhile, increased traffic congestion and environmental impact remain pressing concerns.
In response, London authorities have implemented stricter regulations for taxi app companies, ensuring better working conditions for drivers and safer rides for passengers. As these platforms continue to evolve, it’s crucial they address these challenges to provide a sustainable and equitable transport solution.