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Uber still can't have cars in London, but it's buying a ferry on the Thames

The company plans to buy naming rights for the Thames Clipper boats and piers.
Christine Fisher, @cfisherwrites
July 8, 2020
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An Thames Clipper in London. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Ian West - PA Images via Getty Images

Uber may have lost its license to operate vehicles on the streets of London, but that isn’t stopping the company from offering a boat service. The Thames Clipper commuter service will soon be rebranded Uber Boat, and it will be bookable through the Uber app, The Guardian reports. As part of the deal, Uber will buy the naming rights for the Thames Clipper’s 20 river boats and piers from Putney to Woolwich.

According to The Guardian, Uber users will be able to book a river trip through the app and board using a QR code on their phone. The boats will still be part of London’s Oyster public transit system and will still operate on a fixed schedule. Eventually, users may be able to book a complete journey, with a car waiting for them at a pier so that they can finish the last leg of their trip.

The partnership is expected to launch later this summer, and to start, it will be a three-year deal. Last year, 4.3 million passengers used the service, but at the moment, it’s operating at a reduced capacity and passengers are required to wear face masks.

While this is a rebrand of an existing service, it could encourage Uber users to move around the city in a new way, especially as people begin to return to work. That is, if you trust a boat with the Uber name attached.

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