Uber alternatives in London?
July 18, 2019 10:30 PM   Subscribe

Might anyone recommend any particular alternatives to Uber in London?

We're working out the final kinks for our London trip this October. There might be times when we have to do the ride-sharing thang, but we really don't want to give Uber any of our $. We know there are some other ride-sharing services in London, we're just wondering if there are any in particular that Mefites would recommend.
posted by gtrwolf to Travel & Transportation around London, England (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For Central London, you can try just hailing a black cab on the street. They have taxi ranks at most major stations too.
posted by vacapinta at 11:25 PM on July 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yes! I use an app called Gett. It's a taxi summoning app, not ride sharing. I dislike uber everywhere but it's particularly bad in London, the taxi drivers here are excellent. You can hail a taxi almost anywhere but Gett is good for the times where none are around.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:39 PM on July 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Seconding Gett. I've never used Uber so can't compare, but Gett is convenient and your money is going to the regulated professional black cab drivers. With Gett you get the choice of a set price, agreed before the ride and paid by card, or a metered price. Where I live (not London) the metered price is generally cheaper, but YMMV.
posted by altolinguistic at 12:29 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

A cheaper alternative to black cabs are the countless licensed mini-cab firms; Addisson Lee is the big one but there are plenty of others. They're not metered and have to tell you the fare when you book. If you're at a hotel or restaurant you can ask the staff if they can call you a cab. Most of the time waiting is 5-10 mins, long enough to pop to the loo and get your coat. At peak times it's a longer wait but not more expensive.

Recently, if you book by mobile phone, some operators have started send you a link to a map with the driver location eta etc.

Mini-cabs aren't allowed to just pick you up randomly off the street, they have to be booked. A good plan is to get a recommendation from the place you're staying for a local firm (my phones contact book has about 10 local cab numbers sorted by neighbourhood 'cab kilburn', 'cab stoke newington' etc.)
posted by tomp at 5:48 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Most young people I know use ViaVan, a non-evil ride sharing app. You share with other strangers who are going to similar destinations, like the shuttle buses called “dolmus” in Istanbul. I’ve not used it yet because I was heavily pregnant when I first heard about it so it wasn’t ideal for me, but my coworkers like it. Also it’s very cheap!
posted by Concordia at 7:05 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I know the new Uber competitor in London is Kapten, mainly because my Uber driver was talking about it, and they have ads everywhere. It’s an app, a French company expanding into the UK.
posted by w0mbat at 7:52 AM on July 19, 2019

Yes! I use an app called Gett. It's a taxi summoning app, not ride sharing.

I used Gett when I was in London and it was nice and simple. Make sure you let the credit card company know you'd be doing that, in case you set it up in the US with a CC that you did NOT tell you'd be going on vacation.

I was also pleasantly surprised that public transportation is a lot more ubiquitous and simple than what I'm used to. I used the CityMapper app to show me options (I believe it interfaces with Uber but you can ignore that part) and wound up taking buses around more than I thought I would.
posted by jessamyn at 8:24 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

FYI, many drivers in London actually work for multiple services. We won't use Uber, so we found an app for rides in London (forget the name). Ends up the two times we used the app we got drivers who told us they drive for that company as well as Uber.

Here is an article about ride services in London.
posted by terrapin at 12:17 PM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

The public transit in London is also excellent - bit crowded at rushhour, but there is almost nowhere you can't get by tube, bus and/or boat (the boat to Greenwich is terrific). My mother and I used weekly travelcards when we last visited.
posted by jb at 2:29 PM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I used MyTaxi when I was there last year. It worked just like ride-sharing app, but summoned local cabs. I had zero issues with it.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:35 PM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Clearly there are many reasons why people may prefer to be driven places but at least in Londo, speed should not be one of them. It is quite possible that any public transport option is going to be quicker than anything involving a car. They’ve done tests and my own personal experience supports the conclusion. In June I found myself at the V&A, loving the two exhibitions I’d come to see when I realised that time had gotten away from me and that I was supposed to be on a plane departing Heathrow in just under three hrs. I still had to get my luggage from the hotel at London Bridge and then make my way to Paddington and Heathrow and through the airport. I did check Uber and I checked google maps’ suggested travel times and I’d have missed my flight using anything other than tube/train
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:54 AM on July 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Agreed on the other posters who are pointing out that in central London and environs, public transport is almost always faster and more reliable. So a little more info about the public transport in London if it helps you. The system is VERY good but it has some... peccadillos.

I've found that the buses are the best way to get around - they are very reliable and ubiquitous in both the touristy and non touristy areas and they're double decker! Sitting up top is a complete blast, so if google is telling you that the bus is better than the tube.. take the bus! Londoners are also happy to give directions to guide you to where your bus stop is if you can't find it. But the stops are clearly marked with letters and google maps directions will tell you which stop to go to. Like the trains, they usually have boards with times. Just remember that the buses come on the other side of the road! If you do get on a bus going the wrong way and have to get off a stop later when you realize and turn around, don't be embarrassed... it's an American in London thing. Not that I would know. :)

The trains and buses don't all run 24 hours, though, so check your night tube and night bus maps (be sure to sing Guns N' Roses Night Train in your head if you take one of these because it's very fun to do). They have limited service but if you're visiting and staying in Central London you're almost certain to still have service.

Some lines and trains close on the weekends or don't have the same connections. So do check google when you plan your journey on the weekend, even if it's the same journey you took on a weekday.

If you want to get out of central London, google maps might recommend a train service to you that's not the tube. Say you want to go to Windsor Castle. It's just an hour's train ride from Waterloo Station! Google will recommend the SWR or the GWR (South Western Railway or Great Western Railway) train to Windsor from Victoria or Waterloo station - but you can't use your Oyster card for it because they're not actually owned by the TFL. Definitely ask for directions and guidance if you want to take a train out of the city one day because the train system is very good, but it's optimized for commuters who know the rules and in my experience it's very confusing if you've been taking the tube around London for a week and suddenly try to negotiate it.

While the transport here is very good, after a certain hour you absolutely can still be looking to get a cab. There's usually a taxi rank (taxi stand) nearby, but you can always use Gett. If you do hail a cab or get one from the taxi line, it is customary to go to the window and tell the driver where you're going and let them say "yeah, ok, get in!" before you actually get in. If you know the post code of where you're staying, just the first three letters, if it's not right in central London, that's helpful too. Tipping isn't a thing in England like it is in the US, so you don't have to stress about it, but it's always nice to give your driver 10%. Best to carry a few pounds on you and just hand that over as you get out because they card negotiation can get tricky.

Last thing about cards and card negotiation! Most Londoners just use their contactless credit/debit cards like an Oyster card. If you have contactless you can do the same. The tube and buses are actually pretty expensive per ride, but there is a daily cap, so whatever card you use, use the same one so that the TFL will square it up. I think the daily cap is £11 pounds, basically the same amount as a daily pass, so daily passes are not particularly useful and they can be confusing. The passes are priced for zones, it's hard to know which one you might need, so I would just avoid that entirely and get yourself an Oyster card, and keep topping it off as needed. You can also use Apple Pay on your phone, which is kind of cool. :)

Have a really great time in London! I just love and adore taking the transport around this city.
posted by pazazygeek at 2:27 AM on July 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

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