This September, Transport for London announced it would revoke Uber’s licence because it was not a ‘fit and proper’ company to run taxi services in the capital. Uber was accused of failing to record criminal offences and safeguard passenger welfare, and of using software to evade regulation. The company has also been taken to court by its own workers who are demanding to be given proper working rights and conditions.
The prospect of Uber losing its licence in London places a once unthinkable alternative on the horizon: a new ride-hailing app, owned by its employees and which gives a fair deal to both drivers and passengers. Our alternative will keep transport accessible, low-cost, fast, flexible and easy for all.
Together with trade unionists, tech partners and passengers, we are at the core of a group of socially minded people who know they can build something better than Uber – a driver-owned alternative that is just as convenient and competitive on price, but treats its passengers and drivers with respect.
The New Economics Foundation (NEF) is the UK’s people-powered think tank. We are the home for new ideas to secure real change in our economy, to enhance the quality of people’s lives and protect our environment. We’ve worked with drivers in Leeds and Bradford to explore a worker-owned platform, and are now ready to take this concept to the capital.
The new service – which we are provisionally calling CabFair – will put drivers and customers firmly in control of the company through an ownership and governance structure that ensures they have strong voices to guide the enterprise’s strategy.
Imagine the possibilities: no more exorbitant fees for drivers (Uber currently takes between 20% and 25% of fares); an app that keeps ride costs low and driver wages high by redistributing profits into the wallets of drivers and riders; a business where workers have basic rights like sick pay and a pension; a service that complies with regulation to protect customers’ safety and security.
This isn’t a pipe dream – it’s already happening in places like Austin, Texas. After Uber was banned there, local residents set up RideAustin, a non-profit that takes no commission on fares beyond what it needs to run its business. With more than 5,000 drivers and two million rides completed, it’s a successful people-run enterprise that locals love.
With your help, we can do the same for London through dedicated research and development and bringing as many drivers and users as possible on board.
We are seeking £30,000 to help us:
The blueprint and business plan will provide the vital foundation for launching a new driver-owned alternative to Uber in London. But it will be much more than that – by sharing our research, we will provide a practical model for how an equitable and democratic digital economy can work, one that can be adapted by others and applied elsewhere in the UK and beyond.
"I think that for a modern company their attitudes towards the people they employ are not good enough. Those people are getting up early in the morning and going to bed late at night, sometimes dealing with angry or drunk people. It’s good for me because the service is cheap but it doesn’t make me happy that they’re not being paid enough. So I would use an alternative to Uber."
– Abbie, Uber customer
"I’ve been driving minicabs for more than 20 years. It has become much more sophisticated and of course this is ripe for development, but some would also say exploitation. I’ve had drivers coming to me where they’ve not been paid for work they’ve done, and Uber has brushed them off. An alternative to Uber could provide mutualised benefits like sickness and pensions. I’d join a cooperative!"
– Dennis, Uber driver
Help us build an alternative to Uber, owned by and for people just like you and me.
Full list of founders and donors.