Eastern European taxi firm launches in Sheffield ‘undercutting rivals’ in commission charges

An Uber-style taxi app based in Eastern Europe has launched in Sheffield to go head to head with Uber and the city’s exiting private hire firms.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 6:18 am

The Estonian-based firm Bolt says it has launched in Sheffield this week, and has been targeting the city’s drivers by offering to take lower commissions on their fares than other firms.

Sheffield is believed to be the ninth city in the UK to be targeted by the company, and joins Birmingham, Leicester, London, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Peterborough and Wolverhampton.

The firm says it does not have an office in the city yet, but is launching its service this week.

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A light on a London taxi during a demonstation in central London against regulation of private hire taxis. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 9, 2011. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

It is not known how many cars the firm will be operating.

The chairman of Sheffield Taxi Trade Association, Hafeas Rehman, said the firm only operates private hire cars so was not expected to impact on his members, the city’s black cab drivers, who are licenced to pick passengers up in the street.

He said: “I understand they are taking private hire drivers. From talking to people, I understand private hire drivers are happy for them to come in to Sheffield purely because of the rate that they charge.

“I think drivers are welcoming it, and I’ve seen at least one today with Bolt stickers on its doors. Talking to colleagues there are a few drivers with them.”

One private hire driver who spoke to the Star said he thought there would be drivers tempted to try the new firm because many were struggling to make ends meet at present.

Mr Rehman said it would be more competition but he does not know what it will mean for customer at this stage.

It is understood Bolt allows mobile phone users to hail taxis via an app, seeing the live locations of vehicles on a map and guide prices for their journey.

Bolt first launched in London in 2019.

A standardised email from the company’s Sheffield email address said drivers who were registered with them by the end of this week had been offered a 7.5 per cent commission rate for two months, rising to 15 per cent or 10 per cent for drivers running electric cars.

Bolt and City Cars, Sheffield’s biggest taxi operator, have both been asked for comment.

Local journalism holds the powerful to account and gives people a voice. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper. Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor