Ahoy there Uber! Online taxi firm launches Thames boat service for app-users to book on their phone


Ahoy there Uber! Online taxi firm will launch Thames boat service for app-users to hail Clipper services between Putney and Woolwich this summer

  • Taxi app hails deal on fleet of 20 boats and says it will help people on commute
  • Partnership with Thames Clipper will let users book trips on their phones 
  • Uber still has no licence to run taxis in London, pending an appeal in September 

Taxi hailing app Uber has announced it is launching a boat service in London – despite still not having a licence to operate hire cars in the city. 

Branded vessels bearing the company’s name will operate on the River Thames between Putney and Woolwich later this summer.

It will be the firm’s first permanent commuter boat service and will be bookable via its app.

The move is actually a rebranding deal with the current Thames Clipper service to see Uber’s name on its 20-strong fleet of river boats and piers from Putney to Woolwich.

Uber have released mock-ups of what their London boat service will look like on the Thames

The route the Uber boats will run along when they come in later this year

The route the Uber boats will run along when they come in later this year

Previously the Thames Clipper boats had sported a white and blue design

Previously the Thames Clipper boats had sported a white and blue design 

The partnership between the two companies is expected to last for at last three years and will see customers able to buy tickets on their app and board after showing a QR code.

Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe Jamie Heywood said: “Many Londoners are looking for new ways to travel around the city, particularly when they start commuting back to work.

“Later this summer we will launch the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers in London as a means for people to arrange travel on the river and road, all through the Uber app.”

Thames Clippers co-founder and chief executive Sean Collins said: “In our 22nd year of operation it is key that we continue to support London and its commuters with the ease of lockdown and return to work.

Uber is famous for taxis but currently does not have licence to operate in London

Uber is famous for taxis but currently does not have a licence to operate in London

Uber is famous for taxis but currently does not have licence to operate in London

“The new partnership sees Thames Clippers and Uber, who both pride themselves on safety, reliability and comfort, come together.

“It will allow us to link the two travel modes of river and road, providing Londoners and visitors with even more options to commute, visit, explore and enjoy our city by river.”

This is not Uber’s first foray into the world of boating.

In June 2017 it launched a sea-faring service in Croatia.

It was a private service for Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik and let people request two different sized speedboats.

Croatia was the first place in the world that Uber offered a service customers could book

Croatia was the first place in the world that Uber offered a service customers could book

Uber offered two services: one for up to eight people and a larger off for up to 12 people.

The news comes at a strange time for the company, who still does not have a licence to run taxis in the capital.

It had its application rejected in November over safety fears after evidence was discovered that drivers had faked and shared their identities.

The company launched an appeal, which should have been heard by magistrates this week, but was postponed to September because of Coronavirus.

It had been allowed to carry on operating in the meantime and is still being used by thousands of Londoners.

TfL said it granted licences to river operators such as Thames Clippers “who comply with our high safety standards” but played no role in any partnerships with other businesses and organisations.

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