Bolt increases fares 10% for London rides

The ride-hailing app Bolt has raised its prices in London by 10 per cent, bringing it in line with rival Uber, as tighter regulations and a shortage of drivers send costs higher.

Uber raised its own prices to the same level last November, as it appealed for more drivers as gig economy workers switched to rivals, including food delivery services and Amazon, or reduced their hours.

A High Court judgment in December, that UK private hire taxi operators must enter a contract with customers when they accept bookings, has caused problems for gig companies, which previously insisted that they were simply platforms connecting drivers and passengers.

Uber has since warned the decision could push the cost of rides up by 20 per cent, as it would have to charge customers VAT as a transport provider instead of as an agent.

But the ruling only affects private hire companies in the capital and Bolt said its price rise would only apply to London.

A separate judgment last year found that Uber drivers should be considered workers, rather than contractors. The court argued that if the company set its own prices, then drivers should be considered employees.

Since November, Bolt has been allowing some drivers to set their own rates for journeys. At the time, Bolt said it would reduce waiting times and driver cancellations, following the surge in demand last winter.

But a spokesman said it has “paused” the rollout while the company reviews its operating model, following the High Court decision.

On Tuesday, Bolt announced it had raised €628m, in a fresh funding round led by Sequoia Capital and Fidelity, valuing the company at €7.4bn, up from €4.2bn in August.

Its chief executive, Markus Villig, has argued it wants to become a “super app”, which offers multiple services on one platform. In Europe, Bolt has expanded into grocery delivery and mobility, such as e-scooters.

Both markets are crowded by competitors in the UK and there have been several recent acquisitions of smaller companies as the sectors consolidate.


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