You’re In New York – Which Taxi Agent Do You Use?

Addison Lee, the London taxi firm, has announced it will be expanding its services to New York – one of the biggest cab markets in the world.

As the UK’s biggest taxi firm, transporting over 10 million passengers around London every year, even this is bold step for the company. Experts say it will clash with competing firm Uber, which currently operates across several US cities including the Big Apple.

Does Addison have what it takes to match up to Uber’s local popularity? And which tax firm should YOU choose next time you’re floating about the streets of NYC?

Safety First

Chief Executive Liam Griffin says it feels like “a natural step” to move to the next biggest cab market in the world, after already ascertaining itself as Europe’s largest minicab firm. Addison wants to work on creating a 4,500-strong fleet on the streets of New York (bringing its total fleet to 8000) and says it already has a large number of existing corporate clients within the city.

Local cycling advocates, however, aren’t too pleased. Griffin recently came under strict criticism for his comments about cyclists, saying that they are to blame for their own accidents.

“This summer the roads will be thick with bicycles. These cyclists are throwing themselves on to some of the most congested spaces in the world. They leap on to a vehicle which offers them no protection except a padded plastic hat.

“Should a motorist fail to observe a granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain, then he is guilty of failing to anticipate that this was somebody on her maiden voyage into the abyss. The fact is he just didn’t see her and however cautious, caring or alert he is, the influx of beginner cyclists is going to lead to an overall increase in accidents involving cyclists.”

The comments were published in the company’s in-cab magazine Add Lib, and have triggered outreach from transport and safety groups.

Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, has said that there is “no room for Griffin’s barbaric, anti-safety views on New York’s streets”. Meanwhile, campaign Taxis on 7th Avenue at Times Square, New York Citydirector of Cab Riders United, Michael O’Loughlin vouched that while “innovation and competition is good for customers”, the new players would only be welcomed if they “prioritise safety of New Yorkers inside and outside the vehicles”.

This is not the first time Addison Lee’s chief has got the company into trouble. Last year, the leader took Transport For London to court over not allowing cab drivers to use bus lanes. Until the trial, Griffin had been instructing his drivers to use the bus lanes illegally, until the high court injunction ruled that this was prohibited.

Addison Lee has failed to answer questions on how it plans to make city safety a priority when it moves to New York. We’re guessing that so far, safety is not much of a concern, and Addison is primarily interested in getting its business feet firmly under the table.

Addison vs. Uber

On another note, we’re intrigued to know how Addison plans to match the success of Uber, which has been raking in business ever since its arrival. At the moment, Addison has already laid out some ways in which it hopes to win over clients on the other side of the Atlantic. But are these enough to convince locals and tourists?

Addison Lee Features

  • People with corporate accounts with Addison Lee will be able to book their cabs the same way as they do in Europe – by phone; online or via the smartphone app. Cabs are available within New York and the tri-state area.
  • Passengers will enjoy the same fixed-price standard as the UK.
  • Customers can choose from multiple services including standard executive and hybrid vehicles.
  • There’s the famous ‘Take Me Home’ button option on the Addison Lee app, which allows inebriated passengers to secure a safe journey homewards.
  • As well as cab services, the company also offers delivery services for businesses.
  • Addison caters more specifically to the needs of corporates, with its fixed fares and inclusive insurance.
  • The company will not have a New York headquarters for the time being – this is pending on whether the expansion is successful. In the meantime, all customer calls will be routed back to its offices in London, meaning riders may have to wait a little longer for their calls to be answered.
  • In Griffin’s own words, Addison will provide “a more upmarket ride” than its rival Uber. However, the CEO would do well to let his customers be the judge of that.

Uber Features

Uber has been taking the cab-service market by storm in the last couple of years, particularly among young professionals who are more inclined to use apps and mobile services.

  • A cab with Uber can only be ordered via the smartphone app, meaning the older or less tech-savvy riders may be left out in the cold.
  • Once ordered, passengers will receive an estimate from Uber as what their journey will cost beforehand. This means they can prepare their fare in advance.
  • Passengers have the option to split their fare with another rider, thus making it cheaper and fairer, and easier for groups of friends to share the cost. However, extra riders added to the bill will be charged a small transaction fee.
  • Passengers can share their ETA (Expected Time of Arrival) with friends or family, so they know when to expect them. This can be done either with a social media link or with a quick text message.

Have you ever used Addison Lee or Uber? Which one do you think will reign as the favourite among New York customers? Let us know in the comments below.