Cabbies vandalise Hailo office after app service adds private hire firms
London taxi drivers have attacked the offices of Hailo, the app-based black cab brokerage service, in protest at its decision to add private hire operators to its service. Cabbies vandalised the Hailo offices in Bermondsey, east London, spraying graffiti reading “Judas” and “Scabs” on the walls of the building.
The app firm was founded by three London cabbies, and allows people to hail a cab through their smartphone. The service was initially exclusively for black cabs, but Hailo chairman Ron Zeghibe last month issued an open letter to London taxi drivers, explaining why the firm had applied for a private hire licence.
“There is no point burying our heads in the sand - people want a choice,” Zeghibe said. “When we started, it was a straight fight between taxis and private hire. Now, it's not so simple. These are tough times that call for tough decisions - and that means doing what's right, not what's popular.”
The suggestion is clear that the arrival of foreign services such as Uber and German-based Blacklane had forced the change of policy.
Steve McNamara, head of the London Taxi Drivers’ Association said that “feelings were running high” over the Haio decision. Commenting on the vandalism at Hailo’s office, he said. “Things turned a little bit nasty, punches were thrown and the police were called.”
He added that taxi drivers were deleting the Hailo app and having the Hailo stickers removed from their cabs. Some had placed insulting and obscene messages in the windows of their taxis, denouncing the Hailo service. One cab wearing all-over Hailo advertising was pelted with eggs.