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GROUND TRANSPORT


“The cost-differential gap will start to decrease as ride-sharing companies have to get approval by dealing with issues, such as regulations”


Festive Road’s Abi Cummings says there is a “50/50 split” between clients who have allowed ride-hailing providers to become part of their ground transport programmes, and those who do not approve their use. One factor that may change the balance


in the market once again is the potential for ride-sharing firms to have to increase prices as they are forced to comply with more regulations so they can continue operating in key cities. Ellen Trotochaud, vice-president of business development at SAP Concur, says: “The cost-differential gap will start to decrease as ride-sharing companies have to get approval in cities and markets by dealing with issues, such as regulations and taxes – that’s going to increase their costs.” Trotochaud also expects the fragmentation of the ground transport industry to continue as new players enter the market and cause more disruption. “You’re seeing consolidation in so many other areas of travel, but this market seems to be getting more and more fragmented every day,” she adds.


BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


SELF-DRIVING CARS Another area where Uber has been grabbing the headlines for the wrong reasons was an accident in Arizona in March when one of its self-driving cars killed a pedestrian. The incident led Uber to suspend all of its self- driving trials in the US while the accident is being investigated. Despite this setback, the development of


autonomous vehicles continues to gather pace – other companies working on similar projects include Tesla and Waymo (formerly Google’s self-driving car programme) – even if surveys suggest the public is wary. Most commentators on this subject, including Uber’s new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, think these vehicles are probably ten years away from being deployed on the world’s roads. But what sort of difference will they make to the ground transport sector? “Self-driving cars will be infiltrating


ground transport and we always aim to incorporate new technologies, rather than seeing them as a threat to the business,” says Gett’s Wesley Bishop.


Addison Lee’s chief commercial director Rob McGinn agrees: “We don’t see the development of autonomous vehicle schemes as a threat; rather it’s an opportunity for businesses including Addison Lee to provide a holistic mobility offering to our customers.” Even with the onset of autonomous


cars, insiders maintain there will still be advantages to having an experienced human driver behind the wheel. “The advent of this type of technology –


while hugely exciting – will not immediately remove the need for a chauffeur as the first and last touchpoint of the customer experience,” says TBR’s Craig Chambers. “I don’t see this changing in the foreseeable future. Our chauffeurs give our customers the peace of mind, which can never be fully replicated by a driverless vehicle. “Many of our chauffeurs, often security-trained ex-police or ex-forces, are trained in anti-hijack and evasive driving techniques, situational awareness, accident management and threat assessment.”


CAR SHARING Another element of ground transport that’s evolving is the increase in car sharing programmes. Initially, they were mainly used by public organisations, such as local councils, universities and NHS trusts, but


BBT July/August 2018 79


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