Hailo's London offices were vandalized by angry black cab drivers who feel betrayed by the taxi-summoning app's new policies. The vandalization came after Hailo announced it would offer its mobile booking service to private, for-hire vehicles. The cab drivers were angry that the app would offer the service to their competitors, so they rioted in the office, writing slurs on the walls and getting into an all out fist fight. The police were called to break up the brawl.
Hailo was established by three London taxi drivers, so there seems to be some resentment from their former co-workers brewing. Hailo's co-founder, Ron Zeghibe, issued a public letter on the company website,
There is no point burying our heads in the sand – people want a choice and taxis need to be in the mix. A taxi-only app will get isolated and customers will take their money to services without any cabs on offer. It is already happening. Let's win back that work. Individuals who are in denial of this truth are part of the problem not the solution. The worst thing the taxi industry could do now is deny that things are changing and hold on to the past. Complaining is not a strategy.
When the company first began, tensions were strictly between black cab drivers and private hire cars. (In U.S. terms, think of yellow cabs you hail on the street vs black livery vehicles that you must call for in advance. In London, the "yellow" cabs are black.) Now, the issue is more complicated.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, weighed in, "There's a lot of resentment and anger out there. When the app was set up it was done so under the idea of supporting black cab drivers, and they saw it as fighting back against the private hires. So now the guys just feel betrayed. There's a huge amount of frustration."
Beyond wrecking the Hailo offices, drivers are revolting by deleting the Hailo app, peeling the Hailo sticker off their car, and encouraging their fellow drivers not to work with Hailo.
London cab drivers will also be protesting in June against services like Uber, which they argue aren't subject to the same regulations as licensed taxi cabs. New York is experiencing a similar tension between their yellow cabs and Uber vehicles.
Come June 11th, the taxi drivers in London are planning to cause gridlock to show their frustration. Good luck getting around across the pond.