Blog | co-operative | Employee ownership | foundational economy

New Cardiff taxi co-op ‘hailed’ a success during its first week of business

A group of Cardiff taxi drivers has come together to own a new co-operative that was launched on St. David’s Day.

By Mark Smith · March 8, 2019

See this page in: Cymraeg

Drive – Cardiff Taxis Co-operative has already been getting good feedback in its first week, with customers noticing the things that sets the firm apart from others.

We’ve spoken to Paul O’Hara, one of the co-op’s founders, to find out more….

Where did the inspiration for Drive – Cardiff Taxis Co-operative come from?

We were all uneasy at the way we could see the taxi and private hire trade heading, with large national taxi companies charging drivers more and more money to use their systems and the way  they continue to recruit drivers without the extra work to accommodate them. We then had the huge billion dollar app companies entering the market and charging drivers up to 25% of every journey taken with them.

The huge majority of drivers in Cardiff are self employed and everyone is struggling to make ends meet. We couldn’t affect the amount we pay for insurance, license fees and fuel, but what we could affect is the amount we paid to operators.

So we decided to form the Cardiff Taxi Co-operative and we chose “drive” as our trading name because that is the name of every cabby in Cardiff!

“Alright drive???”

Why is the co-operative approach to the business so important to you, given that it’s owned by the drivers?

We felt the co-operative approach, giving each driver that becomes a member one share of the company, which entitles them to one vote, and a real say in how the company is run, was much better than just forming yet another company with only a few people at the top taking all the profit. Run on a not for profit basis means that we can charge members the lowest amount possible to use our dispatch system. It could potentially save drivers up to £4-5,000 a year.

That money then stays in the local economy rather the paid in dividends to share holders and company bosses.

You’ve only been going for seven days, but what sort of reaction have you received so far?

The reaction has been truly overwhelming, from the scores of drivers that have contacted us for information on how to join, to the public that have used our services. The feedback from them has been fantastic. Our aim is to give the public the best possible service with the very best drivers Cardiff has to offer.

While it’s early days, what future plans do you have for the business?

Our plan is to increase our customer base, and as that grows invite more drivers to become members. Once we have enough members (there’s only 9 founding members) we can look at employing staff to answer the calls. At the moment, all calls get redirected to drivers’ mobiles then the jobs get dispatched from the cars. In the future we envisage employing up to 10 members of staff to keep a professionally run back office open 24/7.

As membership increases we will aim to improve our dispatch system and launch our very own branded passenger booking app. At the moment, the dispatch system we use is suited to small fleets and though it has a customer booking app it is not branded with our company logo.

The GMB also supported the drivers in developing the co-operative, with the drivers as union members.

Social Business Wales provided support to ‘Drive – Cardiff Taxis Co-operative’, through the Wales Co-operative Centre. Social Business Wales is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government. For more information, visit the Social Business Wales website.

Call Social Business Wales – 03000 6 03000