An Estonian firm has launched a new ride-hailing app in London that promises lower fares for passengers and higher take-home pay for drivers, posing competition for Uber and other on-demand transport companies.

Bolt, formerly known as Taxify, is also offering Londoners improved safety features including an in-app “panic button” for both passengers and drivers. The ‘SOS’ service contacts the Metropolitan Police directly when activated.

For non-emergencies, passengers can contact a 24-hour customer service team based in London.

Using the ride-hailing app, passengers can choose from standard or premium-tier cars, with more tiers to be introduced later on.

The company is aiming to rival similar services such as Uber by offering drivers at least 85 per cent of their fares, with Bolt taking 15 per cent – up to half the commission taken by other operators, according to the firm.

Founded in Tallinn, Estonia in 2013, Bolt is one of the fastest-growing companies in Europe and currently serves 25 million customers in 30 countries across Europe, Africa, North America and Australia. It says it recent name change from Taxify represents its expanded scope to provide services with private cars, e-scooters and motorcycles, as well as food delivery in some parts of the world.

Founder and CEO Markus Villig (pictured) said: “We’re excited to be entering the UK market by launching Bolt in the nation’s vibrant and cosmopolitan capital. London deserves more choice in ride-hailing and we believe Bolt offers what passengers and drivers want: a fair, reliable and affordable service.

“Across the globe, we’ve seen the positive effects that lower prices for passengers and better working conditions for drivers can have on communities. We’re committed to bringing our customer-focused approach to London and give people the chance to get behind a European brand.”

Expansion manager Samuel Raciti added: “We think Londoners will love Bolt. Our trips are cheaper, safer and more reliable than the alternatives. Even after our 50 per cent promotion ends, customers will save on average between 5 and 10 per cent on each trip with our lower fares.”

Bolt is offering passengers a 50 per cent discount on fares for a limited time, while the ride-hailing app will only take 7.5 per cent commission on fares for the first two months of service.

Passengers can use the Bolt iOS app or website to request rides in the Greater London area, including trips to Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Stansted and Luton airports.

Bolt joins the likes of Indian firm Ola and traditional taxi-booking app Cabnet in challenging Uber’s dominance in the UK ride-hailing market.

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