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London Gets World's First Uber Commuter Boat Service

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File image courtesy Thames Clippers

By The Maritime Executive 07-09-2020 07:41:50

This summer, the Port of London will become the first home of an Uber-branded commuter boat service. 

Uber's ubiquitous car transportation system is currently banned in the city: in November, regulator Transport for London (TfL) ruled that the firm was not "fit and proper" to hold a private hire operator license, citing driver account control breaches. Uber is appealing the decision, and in the meantime, it has found different way to enter the market.

In an agreement with established commuter boat operator Thames Clippers, Uber will purchase the right to rebrand the vessel's fleet and piers. The "River Bus" service vessels are already being repainted in a black and white "Uber Boat by Thames Clippers" livery, and the branding rollout will take effect this summer. Thames Clippers' ownership structure will not change as part of the deal, and the company will still fully operate the boat service under its own TfL license. 

For now, customers will not be able book a door-to-door Uber journey incorporating both car and boat service. However, they will have the option of using the Uber app to book their fare and make payment. The previous Thames Clipper booking methods - including contactless payment and the Transport for London Oyster card - will still be accepted. 

“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. The new partnership sees Thames Clippers and Uber, who both pride themselves on safety, reliability and comfort, come together," said Sean Collins, Thames Clippers co-founder and CEO. "Watch this space; the partnership will support the ongoing expansion of our network, opening up more of London to fast, reliable journeys by water."