Could London Set Up A Nonprofit, Cooperative Alternative To Uber?

[I]nstead of relying on Uber and other venture capital-backed startups, London has another option if it wants it. It could set up–or encourage–a nonprofit ride service like the one started by tech entrepreneurs in Austin. RideAustin, now 15 months old, has proved that Uber’s proposition isn’t unique and that cities needn’t be cowed into accepting the writ of outside corporations. The homegrown alternative offers something as good (according to many users), but in a way that’s more homely and, dare we say it, equitable.

The New Economics Foundation, a London-based think tank focused on more cooperative economic models, has been campaigning for “Khan’s Cars” in London–a mutually owned alternative to Uber. The name echoes “Boris Bikes” (the colloquial name for the city’s successful bike-share system championed by former mayor Boris Johnson) and is meant as a challenge to the current mayor Sadiq Khan, says Duncan McCann, a researcher at NEF.  The idea is to re-employ the drivers who now stand to lose some of their livelihoods, but on more favorable terms–for both drivers and the city–than what Uber is offering.

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