Londoners have long relied on ride sharing apps to get from one part of the city to another, especially on those days when public transport is all messed up due to tube line maintenance works or strikes.
Uber has topped the commuters’ preference charts for years, and it has even managed to ward off similar apps such as Gett and Viavan over the years. However, a new rival entered London’s ride-hailing scene recently.
Bolt, formerly known as Taxify, is an Estonian transport network company that operates more or less on the same principle as Uber.
With Uber being now threatened to lose its licence to operate in the city, perhaps you should start considering your transport alternatives.
In this head-to-head comparison, we will evaluate each app’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can make an informed decision before using either of them.
Bolt – A New Player on London’s Ridesharing Scene
Bolt has made its entry on London’s on-demand transport scene in June 2019, after an unsuccessful attempt to enter the market in September 2017. In just a few months, the network expanded from 0 to over 30,000 drivers, now standing only slightly behind Uber in terms of popularity among drivers.
It is too early to estimate how many users prefer Bolt to Uber, but the constantly growing number of drivers suggests the service is quite popular among riders too.
Bolt’s main advantage is the lower fees and commissions. The company charges 15 per cent commissions to its drivers – almost half compared to Uber – which means riders can also benefit from cheaper fares. However, don’t be too quick to jump in a Bolt car.
Currently, economy rides start with a £2.50 base fee and cost £1.25 per mile and £0.15 per minute, which is similar to Uber.
A difference in fees applies when you’re cancelling a ride, though. Bolt drivers can charge £5 if you cancel a ride, but charging the fee is discretional. In other words, you might get away for free if the driver is in a good mood.
Cancelling a Uber ride usually costs £10, and most drivers are charging the fee even when you have to cancel because they are late or their GPS retrieved an incorrect pick-up address.
Another big plus for Bolt is the in-app SOS button that links riders directly with the emergency services, as well as a 24/7 call centre for non-emergency situations. Both features are aimed at resolving some of the issues Uber riders complain about, including issues concerning the safety of the rider.
In terms of car options, Bolt lets riders choose from sedans, SUVs, minivans, and executive vehicles; however, the company has no option for riders with accessibility issues.
Uber – Still The Biggest Player Around
Uber is undeniably London’s ride-hailing leader. The company arrived in the city in 2012, and it now has around 45,000 drivers. That accounts for almost 36 per cent of all private hire and black cabs in the capital, with the company serving around 3.5 million users.
Indeed, the service is so popular in the city that London is one of the main sources of revenue for the company.
Fare-wise, riders can expect similar costs to Bolt, but Uber’s ride cancellation fees are higher. On the bright side, the booking fee is lower, as Bolt charges both a fixed fee and a variable amount based on the length of your journey.
While Bolt aims to become Uber’s main competitor, the main threat the biggest fish in the pool faces comes from Transport for London.
Indeed, Uber is threatened to lose its licence to operate in the city due to repeated safety failures, and that’s the main weakness Bolt tries to take advantage of.
If you’re a loyal Uber user and can’t imagine your life without this on-demand service, know that you can still book a ride while the taxi giant appeals the decision. It’s impossible to tell which will be the outcome, but hopefully, Uber will manage to sort out its issues and regain the licence during the appeal.
Drawbacks apart, Uber still tops the riders’ preferences due to the wider choice of rides. Uber car options comprise everything that’s on Bolt’s menu as well as wheelchair accessible rides. Uber Premium is also more specialised in providing executive “black” vehicles – both sedan and SUV – than the mere options offered by Bolt.
Furthermore, economy riders can book an entire ride for themselves or choose the Uber Pool option that allows two or more users to group together, share a ride and split the costs.
Besides commuting, Uber also made its entrance on the food delivery market through Uber Eats.
The service – which launched in London in 2016 – immediately appealed to regular Uber users and has managed to gain such popularity that in 2018 it announced its intention of buying Deliveroo.
Offering more ride options, a wider range of services, and with a loyal pool of users, Uber is undeniably the leader on London’s rideshare scene.
Bolt vs. Uber – Which Is Better?
From an objective standpoint, Bolt could be Uber’s first serious competitor. Similar prices for the rider but more advantageous conditions for drivers might determine the latter to migrate to the new service.
Considering Uber’s uncertain future, Bolt could also take advantage of this situation and gain a fair share of users in the city.
Not only the prices are similar between the two, but the types of rides are also alike. You can choose from a variety of economy or executive vehicles, and Bolt might add wheelchair accessible vehicles in the near future too.
Bolt also wins when it comes to safety thanks to its in-app SOS feature and 24/7 support for all other issues.
It’s hard to deny that Uber is still the best option when it comes to ride-hailing in the capital. It has more drivers; thus, riders have more chances to find a suitable ride faster.
We don’t know what the future holds and how to odds will turn, but for now, Uber is undoubtedly a better app to download