FOLLOWING PHC Magazine’s bumper feature covering the issues relating to apps, it seems that more is to come.
Another type of passenger transport solution is gaining ground and is based on people sharing their car with another individual or group of people, whereby the sharer(s) makes a contribution to the driver for the cost of the journey.
Beyond giving details, which can be purloined from anyone, there is little or no safety from neither a personal or (theoretically) insurance perspective.
The exploitative nature of this type of app is clear and the profession as a whole must act, to ask that legislation is included in any forthcoming act that prevent apps such as these, being legal to use in the UK.
The possibility of false information being used to then attack or put another individual in peril are clear to most readers of this column.
Many app providers talk about the carbon emissions and the cost savings made. But it is incredible that an app such as this, is seen as a safe option of travel.
Fake credit card data
Many of you will be aware of email scams that go out to operators on a frequent basis, explaining how a group is coming to the UK and will need extensive travel services. It is clear enough to the majority of you that this is little more than an opportunity to attempt to defraud.
What you will also know about, is the increased level of credit card fraud with apps/online bookings and non-authorised transactions, and how they affect drivers and operators in different ways.
GMB is aware that in some cases, where operators are defrauded, they are clawing back the payments made to drivers, rather than taking the hit themselves for failing to put security measures In place.
Clearly this is a minority but it stands to reason that where third party bookings are made, a proof of identity should be requested by operators. And in the case where a card booking is made, the driver should have sight of the card that is being used for payment.
This will deter those who seek to defraud where they are asked in advance to have their card available for security checks.
The future of private hire?
A few weeks ago whilst out working, one of our members noticed a sign on a private hire vehicle declaring the company to be ‘now the cheapest in town’.
By making such a statement, you can only assume the company considers this to be a real achievement. But with rates being driven down to such ridiculously low levels, drivers are finding it difficult enough to make a living as it is. And whilst such a company may attract more business, its drivers are in essence, working more for less.
How can the industry continue to reduce rates when running costs, such as fuel and insurance (as well as the general cost of living) are increasing?
Clearly our profession has to move towards charging higher rates and away from the derisory fees that many professional drivers are receiving, if they are to have a sustainable future in the trade.
The future of driving?
Having said that, if Volvo’s latest development plans go well, there may not be many drivers working in the private hire industry of the future anyway.
Whilst very much in the development stage, the Chinese-owned, Swedish vehicle manufacturer has announced that it plans to start real-world trials of it’s autonomous driving vehicle program in about three years time.
The pilot scheme, called ‘Drive Me – Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility’, commences in earnest next year, with Volvo aiming to further develop current technologies before releasing 100 driverless vehicles onto the streets of Gothenburg in 2017.
Volvo hopes that the scheme will go a long way to realising its ambition of zero driving fatalities involving its cars by 2020.