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West Midlands opens new Whim/MaaS system

West Midlands opens new Whim/MaaS system

According to West, travellers in the West Midlands could soon benefit from a new integrated transport system allowing them to access multi-modal ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS) via their smartphones.

The service Whim, by the MaaS operator MaaS Global, will be launched in the West Midlands metropolitan area soon.  The launch follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the West Midlands Combined Authority, transport service providers National Express and SilverRail, Birmingham City Council and MaaS Global.  Other transport companies will be welcomed onboard the Whim service in the future.

The alliance says the MaaS concept means looking after people’s daily mobility needs with a single service, which can be used either on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. It believes that in West Midlands, MaaS can transform how over 5.5 million people get from A to B – including commuters in Britain’s second most populous city, Birmingham. Kaj Pyyhtiä, the Co-Founder and CXO of MaaS Global, sees enormous potential in the region saying, “This is an incredibly exciting location for us to start our first international operation. With their open and forward looking approach, Transport for West Midlands, and local transport service providers from National Express and SilverRail to Enterprise are the true enablers of bringing MaaS to the UK. The ongoing support of Transport Systems Catapult has also been invaluable – we simply couldn’t have found better partners.”

The world’s first capital region MaaS service is already in operation in Helsinki, Finland, where MaaS Global has launched the Whim mobile app – initially for a limited group of test users. Whim, which will be released in Birmingham and West Midlands metropolitan area in the spring, will integrate public transport, hire cars, taxis, trains, bikes and more to take people door to door as easily as possible.  MaaS Global says it has proven immensely popular in Finland, with a growing list of users on the waiting list before this year’s public launch.

The MoU commits all the signed parties to develop MaaS in West Midlands, with a shared goal to build an attractive, comprehensive and convenient service with long-term viability. Councillor Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for the WMCA, see MaaS as a great idea to encourage people to consider how they get about other than with the private car. “Mobility as a Service can transform how people get about this region and by doing so help free up our roads and tackle the scourge of congestion which costs this region billions of pounds a year,” he said.

  • West Midlands Combined Authority and MaaS Global are both members of the MaaS Alliance.
Nissan’s starts with first European self-driving car trials in London

Nissan’s starts with first European self-driving car trials in London

According to TechCrunch and Reuters, Nissan will start testing a version of its electric Leaf car with autonomous driving capabilities in London next month, kicking off its first European trials on public roads. The Japanese carmaker also recently announced that it would be building two new vehicles in the UK, where it makes around a third of the total volume of vehicles produced overall.

Self-driving trials for Nissan are not entirely new; the company began testing its first prototype back in October on public roads, demonstrating Piloted Drive capabilities that are intended to become a fully autonomous driving system in production vehicles by 2020. Piloted Drive also has a single-lane, highway-only version that will be included on vehicles including a Qashqai SUV set for release next year in Europe. The second iteration of its self-driving tech, on track for 2018, will introduce a multi-lane highway autonomous mode, with full autonomy across both city and highway again planned for 2020.

Nissan’s choice of the UK is probably inspired by the British government’s drive to create a nurturing regulatory climate for companies looking to test and develop autonomous drive systems in the country, as well as its strong existing relationship as one of the country’s top car producers.

  • Nissan starts testing self-driving Leaf’s on London streets.
In Movement Uber gives some access to its traffic data

In Movement Uber gives some access to its traffic data

Just when Uber is in a wrangle with New York City about giving the city more of its traffic data, Uber is opening up in an area where it might make sense competitively for it to stay more closed off: The ride-hailing company’s new Movement website will offer up access to its data around traffic flow in many areas where it operates. The approach is intended for use by city planners and researchers looking into ways to improve urban mobility.

The basic idea is that Uber has a lot of insight into how traffic works within a city, and it can anonymize this data so that it isn’t tied to specific individuals in most cases. So where that’s possible, Uber is going to begin sharing said data, first to specific organizations who apply for early access, and then eventually to the general public. Yet when a government official with a recognizable governmental email-address was recently trying to log in to Movement, he was denied access for unclear reasons.

Uber says it was looking at all the data it gathered and began to realize that it could be used for public benefit, and assembled a product team to make this happen. The result of this effort was Movement, which aims to address problems city officials and urban planners encounter when they’re forced to make key, transformational infrastructure decisions without access to all of, or the proper information about actual conditions and causes.

Users of the website can adjust things like time of day, day of week and zones to call up Uber’s data for that specific point or range, and can download the data, both with existing time series charts and in raw format for inputting into their own models. Uber says it’s looking at also releasing access to the data as an API, but it told Recode it is “trying to figure out how to do it in a performant way” at this stage.

Uber is only releasing these data publicly which can be successfully aggregated and anonymized. For parts of a city where it determines there isn’t enough data to properly protect driver and passenger identities, it simply won’t return results for queries, Uber says. Uber adds it wants to do some good in the cities where it operates, for one, but it also stands to benefit from infrastructure improvements in cities.

  • Uber’s Movement should help city planning departments (a bit).
Restart with new team for Karhoo – link-up with Renault Nissan.

Restart with new team for Karhoo – link-up with Renault Nissan.

Karhoo, the world’s first cab comparison platform which folded spectacularly in November 2016, has been bought out of administration with a new team funded by RCI Bank and Services, the financial services provider for the Groupe Renault brands in the world and for the Nissan Group brands mainly in Europe. RCI Bank and Services operates at the crossroads of three challenging worlds: cars, banking and services.

In the month after the company folded, 40 bids were placed for the company by large global corporates and investment firms from around the world, who all saw the potential in the Karhoo model, IP and contracts with fleets around the world. Flit Technologies Ltd, a new venture funded by RCI Bank and Services, won a competitive auction process that will see the company relaunch this year.

Boris Pilichowski and Nicolas Andine, who where active in the ‘old’ Karhoo, took over as joint CEOs in the last few weeks of the previous company’s existence as they tried to find a buyer, have taken over the same roles at the new company and are recruiting around the world. Karhoo’s demise at the time was mainly ascribed to mismanagement by Daniel Ishag, Karhoo’s founder and CEO. He left the company just before it went bust.

Pilichowski and Andine commented: “There is a need in ground transportation for someone to aggregate all the independents and allow them to compete and we are determined to make sure Karhoo fills that need. Karhoo was amazingly successful in ferrying hundreds of thousands of people around the world but lacked a corporate backer, but with RCI Bank and Services, we now have that.”

Alice Altemaire, Chairman of the Board of Flit Technologies Ltd, Vice President, Accounting and Performance Control of RCI Bank and Services said: “We are very delighted to bring Karhoo back to life and build a new strategic plan with the team over the next months. I was very impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm of the teams and I’m sure we will soon be back on the market. We will learn from each other. Furthermore, this investment will allow RCI Bank and Services to expand and enrich its offer.

Who is RCI Banque? Created and wholly owned by Groupe Renault, RCI Banque is a French bank specialising  in automotive financing and services for Groupe Renault customers and dealer networks (Renault, Renault Samsung Motors and Dacia) throughout the world and the Nissan group (Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun) mainly in Europe, Russia and South America.

With over 3,000 employees, we give our end customer access to automotive mobility through a full range of solutions in financing, insurances and services. For both individuals and companies, our line of conduct is the same: to deliver differentiated competitive solutions for smooth and sustainable access to mobility

In 2016, RCI Banque’s commercial identity has changed to become RCI Bank and Services. As a car-financing activity key player, RCI Bank and Services aims at becoming a bank offering innovative services and car-mobility solutions. The company remains nonetheless incorporated under the RCI Banque SA name

RCI Bank and Services covers 36 countries, on 5 continents, financed over 1.3 million contracts (new and used vehicles) in 2015 and sold more than 2.9 million services. Average loans outstanding stood at €28.6 billion of funding at end-June 2016 and earnings before tax at €844 million at end-December 2015 and €431 million at end-June 2016.

Since 2012 RCI Bank and Services has rolled out a deposits collection business in four countries.  At end-June 2016, net deposits collected stood at €11.8 billion, or 34% of the company’s outstandings.

  • Karhoo is restarting its activities under the wings of Renault Nissan.
IATR regulators meet in the ‘Belly of the Beast’

IATR regulators meet in the ‘Belly of the Beast’

This year the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) landed in San Francisco, the ‘Belly of the Beast’ – as IATR-president Matt Daus put it. The heart of Uber-country and a state (California) which likes to experiment: with statewide app-licensing and GPS-meters for instance. Next year will be even better as Austin (Texas), which banned Uber earlier this year, will be the conference host. ‘How do we see the future as licensing authorities?’ – was the burning question at this, IATR’s 29th annual meeting.

“Your Uber waits outside” beckoned the big posters at the airport. Welcome to San Francisco! Instead, I chose a taxi. The driver with a hood that completely covered his head, remained behind the wheel and made no effort to help. How do you mean – quality problems in the taxi industry?

His company –traditionally called DeSoto – had been renamed to the name of an app – Flywheel – and the cab painted app-red. The driver only spoke to explain how his integrated Flywheel terminal (communication centre, GPS meter, card reader, navigation and payment system – all in one) worked. “All you need in one box.” How did he see the taxi trade in San Francisco? “I give it a year before all taxi companies are bankrupt. Uber and Lyft have taken over everything.”

The most notable and impressive speech came from keynote speaker Patricia Gatling, a former New York City Commissioner for Human Rights and the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the governor of New York State. In her powerful presentation she reminded the audience of the need to offer everyone access to transport – without restrictions. Not just people with reduced mobility, but also those living in parts of the city which have no easy access to taxis, Ubers or other means of transport. And those who have no credit card. She insisted the whole transport sector must make its contribution to the protection of the environment, for all industry segments to be regulated in the proper way and warned against creating low-cost gig-type jobs like Uber and Lyft do.

An impressive argument for a level playing field and proper regulation of the entire transport system. Unfortunately -under pressure from Uber & Co’s well-funded lobbying machine more than half of the US states already opted for a looser regulation of apps – Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s) at state level. While states are not equipped for this task, taxis and (some) for hire cars (FHV) are still under strict local regulatory control.

What are the key elements for regulators these days? Safety is an important issue, with many cities opting for a ‘Vision Zero’ approach to road safety copied from Sweden. Add to that: better access for each form of transportation to each part of the city, more sustainable and more efficient forms of transport linking elements of taxi, FHV, TNC’s in new forms of public transport such as Bridj and Chariot. In cities like Boston, Kansas City and San Francisco these freely roaming app-controlled forms of microtransit provide the new public transport. MaaS – Mobility as a Service was hailed as a new and innovative subscription-based approach which should be regulated as a platform.

Or, as one speaker put it, “Being innovative is not good enough. Is the transport safe and meeting our requirements? And when we are looking at taxi regulation, what rules do we really need? Ideally taxis should support public transport. Unfortunately the taxi sector is very fragmented in San Francisco.” Still, San Francisco looked critically at its own taxi rules and concluded that there was a lot of ‘dead wood’ that could be cut. Fewer rules could well work in favour of the taxi sector, as examples from Seattle and Washington DC showed.

Professor Susan Shaheen has been following shared transportation for 20 years. She commented that “TNC’s are no ride-sharing, because they are paid trips. We have different terms we use and it’s high time to redefine them. The transport environment is changing rapidly, especially if we look at shared and connected cars. I would encourage people from the taxi sector to think about the future and the role that you can and want to play. The new mobility allows us to reorganize the city and make it more liveable and sustainable.” Taxis should be more widely shared where and when legally possible.

Both regulators and the taxi industry have a lot to think about. “Who are we as regulators? Do we have a code of ethics, for instance?” asked Tom Drischler, former Los Angeles regulator and stepping down as IATR vice-president. “Where are we going as regulators? Often our regulations are too strict and don’t apply to all forms of transport equally.” Speaking for the taxi sector Blair Davies (Australian Taxi Industry Association-ATIA) said “we have to think ‘outside the box’. Ask ourselves questions about some of our industry’s rules and practices”

That was exactly what Dwight Kines (Transdev), representing the Taxicab Limousine and Paratransit Association (TLPA), meant when he said his taxi members were busily working on a new business model that sometimes copies TNC-behaviour. Why not add TNC-drivers to the fleet at busy times under the company’s own app? And provide a better taxi quality, have a more competitive pricing structure, better marketing and cheaper dispatching?”

Two super-interesting sessions unfortunately ran parallel: the regulation of TNC’s at airports and the use of GPS meters – basically apps which compute the fare on the basis of GPS-coordinates. Major US airports have already embraced Uber & Co as source of extra income from fees and created space for them.

On the ‘meter-front’ the American metrology people are closely following the Flywheel-experiment using its GPS-terminal as a meter.

The quest for the Universal app – an app that works for different types of transport and gives the user different choices – was the last agenda item. But before that local licensing authorities had the chance to give a glimpse into their local cuisine.

Kate Toran had gone through her taxi regulations in San Francisco and wondered aloud why we regulate transport. Answer: because of security, accessibility, durability, good customer service and to correct an imperfect market. Tracey Cook (Toronto) described the tumultuous way her city had finally decided to regulate TNC’s despite furious objections from the taxi sector. Helen Chapman described the latest measures of Transport for London taken at the instigation of Sadiq Khan, the new taxi-friendly mayor of London: language tests for rental car (Uber-)drivers, card and contactless payment terminals in taxis (this autumn), changing the famous Knowledge into an official and formal education, more taxi ranks in the city and later – from 2020 – the greenest taxis in the world when the heart of London becomes an Ultra Low Emission Zone. There is about 65 million pound (€ 72 million) available to help the taxi trade switch over smoothly.

Singapore’s Jenny Teo said the rise of TNC’s had been beneficial for commuters who failed getting a cab during the rush hours. With its seven taxi companies and 28,000 taxis, the city-state is already well served with taxis. Next year, all PHV must be officially licensed and follow strict rules. Teo ended by saying “I’m trying very hard to make the taxis and TNC’s work together harmoniously. (Laughs). Wish me luck.”

Back to the airport, I take a taxi – what else? This driver was the exact mirror image of the one who picked me up on arrival: friendly, interested, informative. Of course, we talked about Uber & Co: “Yeah, they’re killing the industry. From the airport you would have paid 30 dollars with Uber. With me it’s about 42. But not everyone finds apps and private drivers equally charming.” (Wim Faber)

  • IATR’s Annual: this year in San Francisco – the birthplace of Uber – next year Auston, where Uber was banned. Symbolic?
ITF-Transport unions seek common Uber-approach

ITF-Transport unions seek common Uber-approach

Nearly 40 trade unionists from 19 countries representing almost every continent presented their country’s Uber-experiences and explored a common approach as International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF). The IRU (presenting its UpTop activities) and a member from the European Parliament joined the meeting.

On September 20 and 21 ITF held its Second Uber Strategy Meeting, this time in Antwerp. Host Frank Moreels, president of BTB Belgium and vice-chair of ITF’s road transport section, opened the meeting by saying that “Uber and other app-based models promote themselves to passengers as innovative, but are based on deregulation, destabilisation, disrespect for workers, ignoring legislation, not paying taxes or contributing to social security.”

“Uber acts like a ‘hidden’ employer”, he added. “Communicating with clients and workers by mail, by text. Uber drivers are hired and fired by e-mail, contracts are signed electronically.” But at the same time Moreels didn’t spare the taxi trade: “Traditional taxi operators need to up their own game in terms of respecting their drivers and innovating to meet passengers’ expectations, if they are to meet the challenges of the Uber business model.”

The meeting, hosted jointly by ITF Belgian affiliates BTB and ACV Transcom, examined how Uber Technologies and other taxi/courier app firms like Lyft and Gett are increasing their market share in many countries. The companies promote themselves purely as electronic marketplaces that connect customers and drivers using mobile apps, often illegally, in conflict with existing taxi service regulations.

Each union representative presented an update of Uber’s and union-activities in their respective countries. An inspiring mix. Some unions seemed to be at the beginning of the ‘Uber-road’, others had experienced Uber and similar apps for longer. Participants shared their experiences of wins against Uber in cities like Austin, Texas (USA); Brussels, Buenos Aires and Copenhagen. Although they differed on the most efficient way to fight the apps, they all agreed that Uber could influence politicians to find other ways to re-enter cities it had been banned in.

Every union had initially started its campaign with demonstrations using taxis blocking the roads in order to make the public aware of the dangers of Uber and the unfair competition to the taxi trade. Most found these actions quickly backfired and lost them the goodwill of the public, stuck in long traffic jams. Most unions also found that these demos were hijacked by their opponent, drawing attention to the ‘unreliable cabbies.’

Unions have since built national coalitions with other partners in the transport sector, started lobbying politicians and used the courts to sue Uber & Co together with groups of drivers. Both sides can influence politicians, despite the fact that the ‘app-people’ have much deeper pockets to finance armies of lobbyists.

Danish union 3F followed a very different approach. They created Poul Uberman, when they found it was difficult to explain to the Danish public what could possibly be wrong with a tech-savvy company which supplies them with friendly drivers, cheap and quick rides and perhaps even with a bottle of water….

“No, Uber, it’s not just an app” is the slogan on the website and the YouTube-commercials. Why? “Uber is damaging Danish welfare”, claims 3F.

For instance, the site features a video in which fictitious Uber user Poul Uberman – a Danish comedian – visits his elderly mother in a residential home, enthusiastic about how he came by Uber, taking advantage of its cheap prices whilst moaning about the poor conditions in his mother’s home. “You see, it’s not a Danish company. They’re in a tax haven. The drivers put the money straight in their pockets, so it’s half price!” explains Uberman enthusiastically. The video also gives some insight into Uber’s business and tax practices: unregulated vehicles, drivers without proper security checks, tax-evasion.

Since May, when the series of videos started, Uberman has become a cult figure, generating a lot of discussion on social media. “Poul Uberman is someone who thinks it’s very smart to save lots of money by using Uber, but he doesn’t understand why there’s not enough money for his mother to eat decent food or take a bath every day,” Jan Villadsen, chairperson for 3F transport, told Danish TV2. “Just because you have a smart concept, a smart name and a smart app, it doesn’t mean that you are smart, good and fair to everybody in Danish society,” Villadsen said.

Meanwhile, Bhairavi Desai from the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance commented that it was vital to win the trust of TNC and taxi workers alike to develop union campaigns. “Unions need to share global strategies based on universal principles to protect workers against the predatory ‘Ubernomics’ business model, which is destroying full time work and replacing it with ‘sub-minimum poverty gigs’.

But with autonomous vehicles looming at the horizon, the transport workers union are certainly in a pickle: what will remain of their member base. Who will be left working in the taxi industry? Or driving a bus? What will happen with these jobs?

Concluding the meeting, ITF road transport section vice-chair Frank Moreels said: “Unions are certainly not against computer technology in the taxi sector. What we are against is these companies undermining public safety and the jobs of real, regulated taxi drivers by bypassing regulations and refusing liability in the case of accidents. That is why unions across the globe have come together and agreed some common steps to take.”

Around 700 unions, representing more than 4.5 million transport workers from 150 countries, are members of the International Transport Workers’ Federation. Every part of the world is represented by the ITF and taxi drivers throughout the world have a say in the ITF. Uber is present in more than 205 cities in 45 countries across six continents. (Wim Faber)

  • Nearly 40 trade unionists from 19 countries presented their country’s Uber-experiences and explored a common approach as International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF).
Bloomberg/McKinsey report: Electric vehicles could be standard by 2030

Bloomberg/McKinsey report: Electric vehicles could be standard by 2030

A new report states that 60 percent of all vehicles on the road might be electric by 2030. In that year, electric vehicles may account for two-thirds of all cars on the road in cities in developed countries, this recently released report says. The increase in EVs can be pinned to lower technological costs, consumer interest in ride-sharing, and tighter regulations on emissions, according to the report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and McKinsey & Co, seeks to produce a vision of what urban mobility will look like in 15 years. “The individual traveler is at the heart of this evolution, so consumers will need to be open to adopting new technologies and services,” the report says. “However, both the public and private sectors will have roles to play in paving the way.”

In an effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions, governments around the world are attempting to introduce EVs through subsidies and tax breaks, while at the same time creating low-emission zones. The report also notes that technology costs surrounding EVs are falling drastically: the price of a lithium-ion battery pack dropped 65 percent from 2010 to 2015, and they are expected to drop further to below $100 per kilowatt in the next ten years.

“In the near term, it is likeliest to emerge in densely populated, high-income cities such as Chicago, Hong Kong, London, and Singapore,” the report says. “EVs become far more common, spurred by economics, consumer interest, incentives, and the creation of low-emission zones.”

The report notes that EVs are a “direct threat” to vehicles that run on fossil fuels. “The automotive sector faces a future that could be fundamentally different from its past and may need to consider moving from using a pure product-ownership model toward providing a range of transportation services,” it says, adding that gasoline retailers should be considering how to monetize current assets, while at the same time considering how to get future value from electric charging, as well as fleet services.

Read the report:

  • Electric vehicles standard by 2030?
UK business travellers are embracing the sharing economy

UK business travellers are embracing the sharing economy

More than half of company travel policies now allow the use of ride sharing services. Millennials (those aged between 18 to 34) show the greatest appetite for ride-sharing and home-sharing services and are most likely to harness technology whilst traveling.

Millennial business travellers are driving technological change as consumer travel habits continue to impact the business travel experience and corporate travel policy, according to the GBTA Global Business Traveler Sentiment Index, in partnership with American Express.

The research, which includes a survey of 405 UK business travellers, examines satisfaction with all aspects of business travel, and pinpoints the increasing use of technological innovation.

Key UK findings from the research include:

– 51% of company travel policies now allow use of ride share services, suggesting that many companies have ensured their policy reflects the new providers and technologies available.

– Over the next three months, just over one-in-ten (11%) UK business travelers think they will increase their use of ride share services, such as Uber and Lyft. This is primarily driven by younger travellers – over a quarter (28%) of Millennials say they will increase their use of ride share services. None of those over the age of 55 surveyed have plans to increase usage.

Home sharing usage is not yet as widespread as other shared services. Just 28% of company travel policies allow home sharing services, such as Airbnb and HomeAway to be used.

However, almost one in ten respondents (9%) think they will imminently increase their use of home share services. The age divide is, again, evident: 22% of Millennials say they will do so, compared to only 1% of those over 55 years old.

Millennials lead the pack in using social networking sites for business communication

– A majority of UK business travellers (62%) think technology won’t replace face-to-face meetings when conducting business.

– Women (71%) and older workers (73% of those aged 55+) are most likely to think technology won’t replace face-to-face meetings compared to half (53%) of men and 57% of Millennials.

– One-third (35%) think social networking sites help meeting up with colleagues and business contacts when travelling. This comprises over a half (53%) of Millennials, compared to only a third (34%) of those aged 35 to 54 and a mere 15% of those over 55.

– Wi-Fi is considered vital to work productivity by four-in-five (81%) business travellers – and there’s room to improve on-trip connectivity.

– Hotel rooms have the highest satisfaction rating (79%) for Wi-Fi availability and reliability. Just under one-half (46%) of respondents are happy with Wi-Fi on trains and just over one-third (35%) are satisfied with airline Wi-Fi, meaning connectivity presents a clear opportunity for travel providers to improve the journey experience

– During flights, most travellers (57%) don’t work, with many citing on-board hindrances to productivity; one-quarter (24%) tend to do work that requires the internet whilst

flying, whereas the work of one-in-five (20%) does not.

– Millennials (31%) are twice as likely as the over 55’s (15%) to be reliant on internet-based work whilst flying and are roughly twice as likely to cite hindrances to work whilst flying than their elders.

– UK business travellers – like their peers worldwide – are much more confident about the health of their industry than the overall health of the economy

More results:

– 43% of UK business travellers rate the health of their industry as excellent – but only 22% would rate the overall health of the economy as such.

– This reflects the global trend: averaged across all markets, a higher proportion of business travellers rated their industry’s health as excellent (a global average of 51%) than their own domestic economy (global average of 35% rated this as excellent).

Fabienne Cauli, Vice President, Global Client Group, EMEA & JAPA, American Express Global Commercial Payments, commented: “This Index provides a benchmark of business travellers’ changing priorities and expectations – and it’s fascinating to see how this is evolving, thanks, in part, to generational change in the workplace. Younger travellers show clear appetite for using sharing economy services, and have high expectations when it comes to connectivity. These issues are only going to become more prominent in the years ahead, as Millennials represent an ever-growing proportion of the workforce.”

Catherine McGavock, GBTA Regional Vice President, EMEA, commented: “UK business travellers have made clear their views on many aspects of business travel and, whilst 70% of them are generally satisfied with their overall business travel experience, they have pinpointed some areas which those servicing the travel market could improve, for example, when it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity. Recent years have seen unheralded changes in consumers’ technological and service expectations and we’re now in an era where people expect to be able to work and communicate via the internet wherever they are.”

The GBTA Global Business Traveler Sentiment Index, in partnership with American Express, was carried out between March 31 and April 13, 2016, by the GBTA Foundation. An online survey was conducted among a sample of 3,500 business travelers in eight markets: Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the UK, specifically, 405 UK business travellers were surveyed. Eligible respondents were employed part- or full-time and had taken four or more business trips in the past 12 months. For more information, please visit:

• Over the next three months, just over one-in-ten (11%) UK business travelers think they will increase their use of ride share services, such as Uber and Lyft.

Uber and Lyft are getting pushback from municipalities all over the US

Uber and Lyft are getting pushback from municipalities all over the US

Uber and Lyft, and others, want hailing a ride to be as common as catching the bus. But their aggressive expansion plans are being stymied in many places in the U.S. by lawmakers because of safety concerns, pressure from taxi companies or a desire to level the playing field for incumbents, writes CNBC.

Some methods lawmakers are using to thwart their expansion include introducing requirements on driver fingerprinting, vehicle inspection, insurance, fees, and limits on where drivers can pick up and drop off passengers.

Much to the chagrin of taxi and limousine companies, ride-hailing services — whose popularity has irrecoverably slashed the value of a once-prized taxi medallion in places like New York City — have proven addictive to America’s urban population, particularly at the often heavily subsidized prices they offer riders.

Today, 34 U.S. states and more than 69 cities have passed legislation governing ride-hailing companies, also known as transportation network companies (TNCs). Another six states have enacted legislation mandating minimum insurance requirements.

Even still, some lawmakers and taxi and limo companies are pushing for more stringent regulation on things like driver fingerprinting, pick-up locations and fees. Future regulatory battles around worker classification and autonomous vehicles promise to keep things interesting.

The two private companies are spending millions to lobby politicians, reach voters with ads and lure riders with promotions. At the same time, competition in the already aggressive ride-hailing business keeps getting tougher.

This Autumn Alphabet’s Google is jumping into the market with a service built on its popular Waze app.

To streamline the hurdles ahead, both Uber and Lyft would like to see more states enact TNC-friendly legislation governing key markets. Fingerprint-based driver background checks — which some lawmakers believe are vital safety measures and taxi and limousine owners want to level the playing field — remain a big sticking point.

Uber and Lyft have argued that fingerprint-based background checks do nothing to improve safety and act as a disincentive for drivers to sign up, reducing the quality of their services. Both prefer their own self-administered background checks, which they say draw on more up-to-date information and are less onerous for drivers.

CNBC lists some places in the U.S. where friction between the companies and government is particularly acute: Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Florida and New Jersey.

  • Increasing friction between US municipalities and Uber, Lyft.
Northumberland taxi drivers working much harder than before

Northumberland taxi drivers working much harder than before

New research by insureTaxi gives a fascinating insight into the working habits of Northumberland’s taxi drivers, the Northumberland Gazette reports. The Northumberland taxi drivers are working much harder than they were three years ago. The survey of more than 1,000 public and private hire drivers across the UK was commissioned by the UK’s largest taxi insurance broker insureTAXI.

It found that on average, taxi drivers in Northumberland travel 27,222 miles a year and take an average of 96 fares a week – up 36 fares since similar research was carried out in 2013. Over a third (37 per cent) of respondents in Northumberland said they have increased their working hours over the last three years, with nearly half (48 per cent) citing increased competition as the reason for clocking up more time on the road. More than half of drivers (57 per cent) in Northumberland said they’re working longer hours to make ends meet at home. In an average week, taxi drivers in Northumberland are now working 43 hours and earning £306, making the average hourly rate £7.12; eight pence under the current minimum wage.

On top of this, the research revealed they can expect an average tip of 45p for each fare. Considering the number of fares taxi drivers take on average a week, this means they could earn around £43.20 in tips each week. But while the research paints a largely positive picture of taxi drivers’ earning potential, there are a number of costs that taxi drivers regularly incur.

On average, taxi drivers in Northumberland spend £89 a week on fuel, £91 a month on general vehicle maintenance and £1,524 a year on their taxi insurance, totalling an average of £7,244 of expenditure each year. The rising cost of being a taxi driver is a concern for a number of taxi drivers in Northumberland, with 40 per cent stating it’s the biggest threat to their profession.

Over a fifth (22 per cent) think the increase in competition is the biggest threat, while 13 per cent of non-Uber drivers think Uber is the biggest threat. Three-quarters of taxi drivers in Northumberland don’t think leaving the EU will have a negative impact on their job. For those who are worried about Brexit, concerns included people losing their jobs and not needing taxis to go to and from work or meetings; people not going out as due to money worries; and a fear that it would lead to increased petrol costs.

• Northumberland taxi drivers working hard(er) to make ends meet.