Uber's Potential Expulsion From London Benefits Gett, MytaxiBy
Black cab-hailing services rejoice at Uber’s misfortune
There’s potential Lyft could also finally go international
London’s surprise decision to revoke Uber’s license to operate a ride-hailing service in the city may prove a boon for other operators, and could even present a juicy opportunity for Lyft to kick off its long-awaited international expansion.
If Uber loses its appeal of London’s order, the 3.5 million people who use the app at least once every 90 days will be up for grabs to services like Volkswagen-backed Gett and Daimler-owned Mytaxi, which connect users with traditional taxis and black cabs. Of course, those pricier services may not appeal to everyone, and many will be left taking the tube, walking or cycling.
The vacuum could lead to a fallout similar to what happened in Austin, Texas, when Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. left the city last year in protest over a local law that required the companies to get drivers finger-printed before working. A half-dozen or so other startups swept in, with varying levels of success. At one point, total ride-hailing volume had dropped about 13 percent from the Uber-Lyft days. By the time Uber and Lyft returned earlier this year, there were only three other services operating at any scale.
London, though, is a much bigger and more lucrative market, and Mytaxi and Gett are already well-established. They cheered London’s decision, with Mytaxi even offering a 50 percent discount to lure the throngs of regular Uber users.
“We have long questioned whether Uber has been operating within the letter and the spirit of regulation in London,” Andy Batty, U.K. General Manager of Mytaxi said in a statement. “We believe that Uber’s business model is based on pumping large amounts of private equity money into maintaining artificially low prices in an attempt to drive out competition.”
London’s action was targeted specifically against San Francisco-based Uber, and didn’t appear to rule out other ride-hailing services that connect people with private vehicles. That could give Lyft, Uber’s arch-nemesis in the U.S., a window to steal a massive market already accustomed to ride-hailing. Lyft has long contemplated international expansion, but has never unveiled concrete plans.
A spokesperson for Lyft declined to comment.
In any case, Uber won’t go quietly. It has said it will appeal the ruling and launched a petition in London that garnered more than 300,000 signatures in just a few hours.
— With assistance by Elisabeth Behrmann, and Joshua Brustein