PHV Operator Guide

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Different Earnings

Find out how the earnings compare between different operators.

Perks & Bonuses

See some of the latest bonuses and sign up offers.

Pros & Cons

What are the positives and negatives with each operator currently?

If you’re interesting in learning about the latest private hire operators in London, then this is the guide for you.

We’ve put together a full list of the top rideshare companies around right now, with the latest updates about them and sign up information included too.

Scroll down below to see a full list of different operators in London.

We are looking to constantly update this page with the latest operators, sign up information, bonuses and offers. So remember to save the page!

Last Updated: 09/07/2021

Uber London Rental Cars

Who are they: You have almost certainly heard of Uber, and for good reason as well. They are currently the most popular platform in the world, catering to the most riders and drivers globally. If you are a relatively new PCO driver, then you will definitely want to sign up to Uber sooner rather than later.

Some of the perks:

  • Uber has an estimated 3.5 million users in London. This popularity means that PCO drivers are likely to find a steady stream of work on this platform.
  • They have a fantastic app, which is to be expected considering that they were one of the first companies to take this market by storm. This means that you will have a reliable day to day experience.
  • Very flexible model – take the jobs you want, when you want.
  • You can cash out your earnings multiple times per day, which is more flexible than other apps with monthly or weekly payments.
  • One of the biggest initiatives Uber has done in the last couple of years was to launch the Uber Clean Air Plan. This has been hugely successful so far, and has helped a number of drivers to get on the path towards owning a brand new electric vehicle at a discounted price.

Some Negatives:

  • They charge 25% commission, which is higher than most other companies. This is essentially the price you have to pay to be connected with all their users.
  • Some PCO drivers have reported occasional instability with their surge pricing. – Surge pricing is how Uber raise or lower their prices depending on supply and demand in London, and this can directly impact your earnings.

Vehicles: Uber Cars in London must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Vehicle model year must be 2008 or newer.
  • 4-door vehicle or minivan.
  • Good condition with no cosmetic damage
  • No commercial branding allowed
  • All PCO cars must be licensed to carry 4 or more passengers.
  • Since 1st January 2020 all private hire vehicles must meet new emission standards.

Otto Car are a preferred Uber Partner and all of our PCO Cars are Uber approved so you’ll never have to worry about meeting the right standards. We offer brand new electric Uber cars on our Rent to Buy scheme in London!

Driver Rates: Uber take a 25% commission on each of your rides.

Fare Estimates (UberX): Otto Car Hub (Hammersmith) to Heathrow Airport = £21 – £28

How do I sign up to Uber: We’ve outlined here the full signup process for Uber drivers.

Recent Updates:

Uber have recently launched Uber Green, which connects Uber drivers in electric cars with riders. For this feature Uber drivers will only pay a 15% commission fee, and there are even bonuses to boost trip earnings. Find out more here.

Uber has recently announced incredible figures for people cashing in on their Uber clean air savings. If you aren’t aware of what that is yet, then please click here to get informed!

 

Bolt Cars

 

Who are they: Bolt is the London version of Taxify, which has grown in popularity with PHV Drivers across Europe. A couple of years back they entered the UK as Hopp, but pulled out because of legal issues. Since launching again as Bolt they have grown in popularity, especially through offering attractive deals f0r riders.

Some of the perks:

  • Bolt take only a 15% commission from PCO Drivers, which is very good considering the competition.
  • Riders will be charged a wait-time fee once drivers arrive at destination (25p per minute).
  • There is an in-app SOS button for drivers and riders, which connects you directly to the police in case of an emergency.

Some Negatives:

  • Bolt have fixed rates for journeys. This is attractive for riders, but can be frustrating for PCO drivers when journey times increase unexpectedly.
  • Bolt’s rates for riders seem to be slightly low. This again is great for building a strong customer base, but could potentially impact earnings.
  • Some reported glitches with their app, including a few payment issues, and difficulties communicating with the company. (If you have any experiences with the app we’d love to hear from you on our Facebook Page!)
  • Certain PCO drivers are reporting payment issues, stating that certain riders did not pay for their service and Bolt have not reimbursed them yet.

Vehicles: To drive with Bolt in London, your PCO car must meet these minimum requirements:

  • 2011 model or newer.
  • Have no commercial branding.
  • Vehicle registered as a private hire vehicle after 1 January 2018: Euro 6 petrol or diesel engine, or a Euro 4 petrol-hybrid engine in order to meet new emission requirements.

Driver Rates: Bolt offer a competitive commission of 15% for drivers. They have also promised that this is not just an introductory rate.

Fare Estimates: Otto Car Hub (Hammersmith) to Heathrow Airport = £21.50

How do I sign up to Bolt: Learn more about Bolt on their website, where you can also sign-up.

Recent Updates:

Bolt have also announced their own green program as well now. This includes carbon offsetting to ensure that their fleet is carbon neutral and incentivising more EV drivers to join their platform. If you’re interested in an EV PCO Car then click here to see our latest Rent 2 Buy range.

 

FREE NOW operator app

Who are they:  FREE NOW originally started as a project between BMW and Daimler. Since then they have made some interesting partnerships, including with Kapten in 2020. They are now the only rideshare company in London which has both black cabs and private hire drivers on their platform. They claim to have around 1.5 million passengers in the UK, and they are continuously advertising around the capital.

Some of the perks:

  • Dedicated driver care team.
  • Twice weekly payments.
  • New driver loyalty program with discounts and offers.
  • Low commission rates (at least for now).
  • Decent technology with features such as blocking passengers and up to 6 months of ride and payment history

Some Negatives:

  • Relatively new brand which will take time to build up in London. Uber, Bolt and Ola have better recognition currently.
  • Mixes black cab drivers with PCO drivers on the same platform, which some consider a controversial move.
  • Flat rates for riders, which means your fares will be determined before the trip, and you won’t earn extra for sitting in traffic or taking longer routes.

Vehicles: “Vehicles must meet all TfL criteria to be registered on our service, including a TfL vehicle licence. This includes requirements such as being no older than 10 years at the time of the application” – Free Now.

Driver Rates: 15% commission.

Fare Estimates: Otto Car Hub (Hammersmith) to Heathrow Airport = £22.55.

How do I sign up to FreeNow: You can visit their driver sign up page for more information.

Recent Updates: 

FreeNow have linked up with mental health charity CALM to offer support and advice to PCO drivers. If you feel like this would be useful then please click here to find out a bit more about this.

They have also recently released their own green pledge, which sees them switching to 100% electric vehicles by 2025. As part of this they are also offering a 50£ referral fee if you recommend an EV driver to join their platform.

Ola Rental Cars London

Who are they: Ola were founded in 2011 with a focus on India and Australia, and are currently the third largest PHV operator in the world. They entered the London private hire market last year, and have since dedicated a lot of time and effort in promoting their brand to PCO drivers and riders alike.

Some of the perks:

  • They’re a big company, and are the number one ride-hailing company in India, where they were founded. This means that they have large-scale experience in the private hire industry.
  • Includes a “Go To” feature, for those of you that like to plan your final journeys to take you home.
  • Daily pay outs.
  • Competitive commission.

Some Negatives:

  • Some drivers have reported issues with their technology in the past, and have had minor payment issues with their in-app wallet feature.
  • Relatively low rates for riders could make for harder earnings.
  • Their position is currently unstable whilst their appeal to TfL is ongoing.

Vehicles: Ola’s PCO car requirements are more or less the same as the other operators so far. This includes a PCO vehicle that is less than 10 years old, has 4 doors, and 4 seats (excluding driver’s).

Driver Rates: Ola are currently offering 15% commission to PCO drivers. 

Fare Estimates: Otto Car Hub (Hammersmith) to Heathrow Airport = £19 – £24

How do I sign up to Ola: You can start the sign-up process via Ola’s website. Once they have verified your documents, you will be contacted by a member of their team, who will invite you to one of their onboarding centres.

Recent Updates: 

As things stand, Ola has not had its TfL ride-hailing license renewed due to regulatory issues. Ola are appealing this verdict by TfL, and in the meantime are allowed to continue operating.

ViaVan Rental Cars London

Update – ViaVan have temporarily suspended their service in London due to Covid-19. We’ll update this section should they resume.

Who are they: ViaVan lets drivers collect and drop off multiple riders at designated locations.

“As we are a corner-to-corner service, we’ll pick you up at a nearby corner and then drop you off within a couple blocks of your requested destination” – ViaVan

Some of the perks:

  • If you are a fan of taking multiple passengers at once then this is the app for you.
  • Instead of finding trickier locations, you only go to designated drop off points. Similar to a bus.
  • ViaVan drivers receive 24/7 real time support.
  • Widely considered as a relatively safe form of transport.
  • Competitive commission.

Some Negatives:

  • Taking multiple riders in one go isn’t for every PCO Driver. Rides can be louder and harder to control, especially later at the night. It could also pose some health concerns due to COVID-19.
  • ViaVan are heavily focused on central London, which isn’t ideal for those of you that like to steer clear of the busier streets in London.
  • Ride fares can be quite cheap, meaning you have to take on more jobs to maximise your earnings.

Vehicles: It’s unclear what all of the ViaVan vehicle specs are, but some reports are saying that they will accept any Private Hire vehicle that’s less than ten years old. We also know from experience that the Mercedes Vito Tourer is a great option for this platform.

Driver Rates: ViaVan charge a competitive commission of 15%.

Fare Estimates: Otto Car Hub (Hammersmith) to East Croydon Station = £27.45

How do I sign up to ViaVan: PCO Drivers can sign up on their driver portal.

 

Green Tomato Rental Cars London

 

Who are they: Green Tomato Cars are a corporate and executive private hire operator, with an emphasis on environmentally friendly services.

“We intend to pave the way to an emission free London.” – Green Tomato

Some of the perks:

  • They’ve been operating in the capital since 2006 so have built up quite a loyal customer base.
  • Opportunities to become full-time GTC drivers, with a yearly salary and holiday days.
  • They offer bonuses for meeting weekly green goals and having smooth journeys.
  • Working for an environmentally friendly company.

Some Negatives:

  • They are by no means the biggest company on this list, so it’s uncertain if you’ll get a steady stream of riders in your area.
  • Stricter policy on vehicles.
  • Whilst this is good for PHV drivers looking for a full time career, there could be less flexibility for those that just want hit the road when they feel like it.

Vehicles: There is no clear vehicle list, but they accept a wide range, including EVs and hydrogen cars.

Driver Rate: The company claim that the average driver can earn around £600 a week on their platform.

Fare Estimates: Otto Car Hub (Hammersmith) to Heathrow Airport= £47.50

How do I sign up to Green Tomato Cars: You can find out more driver information and sign up to them on their official website. Otto Car also have an exclusive deal with Green Tomato Cars for drivers interested in maximising earnings and stability. Check out our Green Tomato Cars offering for more information.

 

Private hire operators London

 

Who are they: Brunel have been around for close to 40 years in London working mainly with corporate clients. They are one of the older brands of “executive fleets”, and were acquired by Europcar last year.

Some of the perks:

  • They deal with corporate clients which some drivers prefer.
  • General reports that the team are quite friendly, and nice to deal with on a day to day basis.

Some Negatives:

  • Online bookings can be made via their app, however some bookings are still operated by controller which is not everybody’s cup of tea.
  • Application process is slightly lengthier than other companies, and includes a few suitability tests.
  • Current technology is not incredible, especially compared with some of the other big hitters in the private hire market.

Vehicles: According to Brunel your PCO car “must be no older than 3 years old and you will be required to bring in all of your documents to be checked.”

Driver Rates: Between 15-20% depending on the job.

Fare Estimates: Otto Car Hub (Hammersmith) to East Croydon Station= £19 – £23

How do I sign up to Brunel:

  1. ) Email [email protected] with your request to sign up and a member of the team will get back to you.

 

 

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Who are they: Addison Lee is one of the oldest operators on this list, having started in 1975. Since then they have transformed into an operator that focuses on corporate clients in London. They have also launched a courier service which has recently picked up a bit of steam.

Some of the perks:

  • More certainty as to who your riders are (corporate clients), and potential to pick up some regular riders.
  • Technology seems to be generally good which makes for a smooth process and support when needed.

Some Negatives:

  • You have to rent your car with Addison Lee, which can work out more expensive than other schemes. This also doesn’t give you the option to work towards car ownership, and means that you will probably have to stay exclusively on their platform.
  • Some drivers report that the earnings could be better, and they are having to work even longer hours to pay off their weekly car rental fees.
  • Relatively long sign up process.
  • It remains to be seen how their corporate accounts will fare since many people are working from home now.

Vehicles: PCO Drivers will have to rent directly from Addison Lee, and they will have to maintain and cover fuel costs for this vehicle.

Driver Rate: Addison Lee claim to take 20% commission on all fares, however this can change with bonuses and types of journey.

Fare Estimates: Otto Car Hub (Hammersmith) to Heathrow Airport = £36.35

How do I sign up to Addison Lee: You can find out more on their driver sign up page. With Addison Lee you will be required to pass an in-house training course, demonstrate that your level of English is very good, and that you meet their standards of service.

 

One More Thing

If you are looking to sign up for any of these platforms then please feel free to also check out Otto Car’s Rent 2 Buy page. We have an exciting line-up of new and used PCO cars on our popular Rent 2 Buy scheme.

This review is made using information from the operators themselves, but also from the opinions of PCO Drivers using these platforms. If you’re a PCO Driver on one of these platforms and would like to have your voice heard then you can also reach out to us on Facebook with your personal experiences.