Earlier this week, Uber got a new rival in London: Taxify, a startup that’s already gained traction in eastern Europe and Africa. Taxify promised cheaper fares for passengers and a bigger cut for drivers—but for now, Uber can rest easy.
Just three days after the launch, following a brief investigation of complaints, transport authorities shut Taxify down. So much for the Estonian firm’s claim that its purchase of a licensed private hire transport company in London, City Drive Services, gives it the permissions it needs to stay on the road there.
“The law requires private hire bookings to be taken by licensed private hire operators at a licensed premises, with appropriate record keeping,” Transport for London (TfL) said in a statement. “Taxify is not a licensed private hire operator and is not licensed to accept private hire bookings in London. TfL has instructed Taxify to stop accepting bookings and it has done so.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan backed up the regulator, saying Londoners’ safety was his “number one priority.”
“Following an investigation, it was right that TfL took immediate action to instruct Taxify to cease operating,” he said. “As Mayor I will continue to do everything I can within my powers to drive up standards across the taxi and private hire market, and ensure Londoners can get safely around our city.”
In a statement issued early Friday, Taxify said it had “temporarily stopped operations to clarify its legal position with the regulator and reach a resolution so that services can return to normal.” The company said it had signed up 3,000 drivers in those three days, while 30,000 people had downloaded its app.
Like Uber, Taxify takes the position that it is a tech platform, rather than a transport company. However, Uber has already gone through numerous legal wrangles with TfL and—unlike Taxify—remains up and running.