Revolting taxi drivers have been bringing London to a halt on a regular basis recently in protest at the arrival of Uber in the city.
Uber is a mobile phone app for that allows customers to track and book mini-cabs. What has particularly riled London’s black cab drivers is the fact that the app can calculate fares. This effectively creates a less regulated metered taxi service that can out-compete the traditional London cabby.
Ironically, Uber reckons that on the day of the last protest, its registrations increased by 850 per cent. And with the business growing like topsy, it is now calculated that Uber is worth £10.7 billion.
And that success poses the question: is there a role for a freight version of Uber?
Well in the United States, there is an automated freight transport brokerage called Keychain that describes itself as the Uber for trucking. And then there is Dashhaual.com – a virtual marketplace. And Trucker Path…
Uber itself has created UberRush – an on-demand courier service but it is only available in Manhattan at the moment.
Of course, our industry has seen lots of load-matching systems using increasingly sophisticated technologies – Teleroute for example.
Perhaps the closest to Uber is the Shutl service, now part of eBay, which allows buyers to have goods couriered to them in as a little as an hour. But that still means waiting to receive the goods.
Uber allows the customer to track the arrival of the taxi – perhaps that has an application in goods deliveries. If you can track the van delivering your package, you don’t need to wait at all, someone just has to get to the delivery point at the same moment as the van.
Far fetched? Perhaps… but them I’m old enough to remember another development in the parcels market that lots of people said would never catch on – 24 hour delivery services.