It may seem like the transport space is becoming crowded, but there's still room for improvement if the appearance of iconic London cabs in Sydney is any indication. On the street from Thursday, December 8, the vehicles are arriving thanks to taxi and ride-sharing app GoGatch, in collaboration with startup London Rides, created by British car enthusiasts Ross Pendergast and Elgan Potter.
The service is aimed at people who are not satisfied either with ride-sharing services, such as Uber, or traditional cabs, and brings some perks to the table.
Drivers will be required to wear a uniform of white shirt and black waistcoat, and each will be trained to make sure that they have expert knowledge of the city's streets, based on training which London cabbies undergo.
"We took elements of the Transport for London Knowledge driver training for prospective drivers, particularly around the customer focus and WHS elements, and integrated it into the two days of training we are providing drivers in Sydney," Pendergast said.
"The Transport for London Knowledge test includes around three years of practical training so that qualified drivers know their way around London without the use of a navigation system. In Sydney, passengers and drivers have developed trust in Google Maps providing accurate and most efficient route planning including directions and traffic updates."
The cars boast more spacious interiors, too. There's enough room for five passengers, but folding seats ensure that smaller groups can take advantage of the unused space.
"Passengers have told us that cleanliness and quality of customer service are their main frustrations with many traditional transport vehicles. The London Taxi TX4 vehicle is the only purpose built vehicle of its kind and by placing professional drivers behind the wheel, we are able to offer something completely new for the local market," Pendergast said in a statement.
The service will be allowed to operate under the same rules that legalised UberX in NSW in December of last year. Rideshare drivers are now allowed to operate with a hire care driver authorisation and a business registration for the car. Under these same rules, the London Rides cannot be hailed in the streets, but only booked via the GoCatch app.
Even with its "permium" perks, London Rides fares will be consistent with Sydney taxi fares, set by the NSW Transport regulations for taxis.
"Our experience in other markets has proved that passengers prefer to ride in a London Taxi vehicle. It's business class service for the price of economy," Pendergast said.
London Rides and GoCatch hope to have 85 vehicles rolled out by Christmas, 115 by mid-March of next year, and are aiming for 1,000 by 2018. As of December 14, there were 7,347 taxis operating across NSW.