Lyft, the Uber rival, is eyeing the London market, holding talks with Transport for London (TfL) and City Hall officials over the past year.
According to a news report in The Telegraph citing freedom of information records, while the talks don’t state Lyft is getting into the U.K. market, they do show it has an interest in that market and in the city’s transport policy. News of the interest comes just days after the TfL declined to renew Uber’s license, dealing the leading ridesharing company a major blow.
If Uber’s appeal fails, it will no longer be able to operate in the city, paving the way for a competitor to pilfer its market share. Uber has 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million customers in London, noted The Telegraph.
According to the report, Lyft’s head of global strategy, Mike Masserman, and chief strategy officer Raj Kapoor have had face-to-face meetings and phone calls with TfL officials during 2016. The talks were focused on the startup’s business model and operations, as well as the London mayor’s new transport strategy for the city. One December meeting in London was attended by Helen Chapman, who is in charge of TfL’s taxi and private hiring unit. Others at the meeting included Peter Blake, TfL’s director of service operations for surface transport, and three unnamed representatives of the Greater London Authority.
Lyft isn't registered as a company in the U.K., nor does it have a private hire license. The license would be necessary to operate in the city, said the report, noting that Lyft’s entrance into the city could face opposition from taxi representatives as well as lawmakers. Those constituents may be concerned that a new service would add to the congestion in London.
Lyft declined to comment on the report, but given Uber’s current troubles, Lyft could be emboldened to move forward with a push into London.