Tag Archives: London

London Planning Report on Uber

The city of London is the latest to have drawn battle lines between taxi drivers, local government, and U.S ride-sharing company Uber. City Hall has actually taken a novel approach to Uber and has decided to pass the buck to politicians with a list of options that lead to a number of eventualities, but result in either the company being legalized and regulated or kicked out of the city entirely.
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Uber has been operating in London since it began moving across Southwestern Ontario during the end of 2015, and as always the company’s expansion has brought plenty of controversy along for the ride.

While the city is considering adopting Uber legally, it is actually still locked in a legal battle with the $40 billion valued giant. London has taken a front on approach to combating the company. Whereas other cities have just let Uber operate illegally without regulation, London is part of the group of municipalities that have actually turned police on Uber drivers.

The city has issued 36 fines to drivers, and the consequences have been high with legal tariffs of between $400 and $1000. However, Uber has defended its drivers and has stumped up for their fines, but despite this the company is positive about the report.

“We welcome the (report and) look forward to continuing to engage with city officials and council to modernize regulations to encourage innovation, put people first and create safe, reliable and affordable transportation options,” an Uber spokesperson wrote.

Uber has oft argued that it is a technology company that merely provides a platform (smartphone app) for passengers to connect with freelance drivers. This argument the company says means it is not a taxi service and therefore should not be regulated like one. Taxi unions have fought the company and Roger Caranci of the London Taxi Association said the city should protect the industry:

“The vast majority of rules are in place to protect consumers. We will not compromise any of those rules,” he said.

London taxi drivers hit back against Uber

London has been one of the most welcoming cities in regard to Uber, certainly next to the fury caused in Canadian Urban areas. Sure, the UK capital has seen protests or roadblock demonstrations, but for the most part the ride-sharing service has enjoyed a smooth transition into the London market.

Make no mistake though, in London the ferocity of emotion displayed by taxi drivers over the arrival of the UberX service is alive and well. Of course, those taxis are the iconic Black Cabs and the drivers are the people who know London’s streets better than anyone thanks to the famed “Knowledge”. Uber is a pesky upstart, but it is an upstart that is hitting the traditional industry and now taxi drivers in London are hitting back.
Uber London Protest
Cab drivers in the largest city in the European Union are striking against Uber in a more nuanced way compared to their Canadian counterparts. Last year, taxi drivers in Toronto brought the city center to a shuddering halt with a protest that was poorly received by consumers and authorities alike.

In London a different tactic is being employed as London Black Cab Supporters have created a group called Action for Cabbies, and have initiated a crowdfunding pitch that seeks a judicial review of Transport for London’s 2012 decision to grant Uber a license to operate in the city. Yes, the big difference between London and Canada is that Uber is regulated in the UK city, but cabbies are still not happy.

It is perhaps a situation that can be expected in Canada when cities around the country (led by Toronto) finally get around to drawing up regulatory guidelines for the UberX service. Once in place, Uber will be able to operate legally in a given city, but if London is an indicator the problems with traditional taxi groups will not be over.

“TfL (Transport for London) is inept,” Mercer tells TechCrunch. “They really need to stop faffing around. Bringing in new legislation to cap the amount of new licenses that they’re issuing – I’m told it’s about nearly 800 a week last week. Touting is going on, there aren’t adequate insurance checks or legal background checks with a lot of these PHV new licenses. It’s paramount to public safety that TfL regulates and they’re not doing that. And they’re operating outside their remit by giving licenses and creating operators who operate outside the legal framework.”

Action for Cabbies is seeking £600,000 via crowdfunder.co.uk, an amount that will be used to finance the first stages of what the group hopes will be a full legal action against Uber’s regulatory license to operate in London.

“If… permission is granted the application would then be heard in open Court with both parties having the right to make their case,” notes the group’s lawyers, Rosenblatt Solicitors, in a statement. “It may be that Uber itself would appear in Court too on the basis that it has a vested interest in the outcome and if so they would have the chance also to make their case.”