After London cabbies brought parts of London to a standstill with their protest over the Uber app last month. The Transport for London (TfL) has ruled in favour of Uber. Throwing out any issues that that were brought by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA). They Argued that the the Uber app is just a more high tech version of the Taximeter. Something according to British law only register taxis are allowed to use.
Uber have suffered through the largest compliance inspection in TfL’s history. A huge 26 compliance officers spent 2 days sifting through Uber London offices’ paperwork. The officers audited driver records, insurance documents and vehicle licensing. TfL taking action with Uber because a competitor complained that out of the thousands of drivers, one single driver was not insured.
“TfL is looking into it, and that’s right, it’s their job as the regulator. As we’ve said before, safety is our number one priority, so we take these things very seriously. We are absolutely certain that the driver in question was fully insured, and that this specious claim will not hold up in court. We will clearly show that Uber is one of the safest ways to get around London. No matter what the big transportation incumbents would like to convince the public of.” – Uber blog
We think it is crystal clear Uber are breaking the Private Hire Act – a buffoon could have seen what it meant.” said Steve McNamara, LTDA general secretary. The LTDA are also set to take legal action against 6 private minicab firms that use Uber now the ruling has taken place.
Uber’s Taxi Meter?
Uber will be able to continue business as usual now, happy in knowing they are doing so legally. TfL has rejected the claims of the LTDA that Uber’s smartphone app is “programmed to be a meter”. This is expressly prohibited by the Private Hire Vehicle Act. A claim that Uber strenuously denies. Taxi drivers not satisfied with the TfL ruling however. The British civil court will have to make an official to end the argument. Deciding if any laws being broken or changed. It’s unsure if there are plans from another demonstration.
Taxi Drivers Guild
In stark contrast to taxi services around the world. London black cab drivers view their job as a professional and take great pride in it. Taxi driving is not the low income, base job it is in other towns or countries. So in order to make an effort to bring the LTDA on-board Uber is allowing the city’s signature black cabs to participate. Some drivers have already made use of Uber. But others have resisted out of protest.
London cabbies took to the streets in two separate demonstrations to the use of Uber. Blocking roads and causing chaos in rush hour traffic. However this only lead to increased publicity of the app. Uber claiming downloads of its app for all platforms in London increased 850%.
Launched in 2010 from San Francisco, Uber is now running in 115 cities across the globe. Using location data to enable the user to find a private cab to take them on a specified journey. Also aiding those without cash by calculating the and handling the payment. Google have now built Uber into their android maps app, so the app clearly has a huge following.
Uber is no stranger to having action taken against it in cities around the world. Uber received a cease-and-desist letter in 2011 from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. They claimed a similar charge, that Uber was operating an unlicensed taxi service. The Massachusetts Division of Standards joined in with a cease and desist letter to Uber, on the grounds that the GPS-based smartphone app was not a certified measurement device. Later choosing to back down. Action soon followed in New york, Toronto, Vancouver and Seattle to name a few.
So the battles rage on and several new service are hoping to get in on the action. Highly rated services such as Lyft, have just incorporated Android Wear Support. The newest service to be launched is Hailo, hoping to bring black cab drivers onboard. Rather than offering private hire cars that disrupt the Taxi industry like Uber. Hailo focuses on licensed taxi drivers and firms.
“Taxi drivers spend 30-50 percent of their time with no-one on their backseat — while passengers stand on a street corner playing taxi roulette, and neither knows they’re on the next street from each other.” – Caspar Woolley, Hailo
Hailo was created in London by Casper Woolley and three black cab drivers. They differentiated themselves by building a platform that can easily be taken to any city. As Woolley points out not every city is the same. Being quite open that there is no flat rates for all drivers. “In London, for example, where fares are relatively high, we operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. In Chicago, where fares are lower, the driver doesn’t pay anything.” he added.
Anything that streamlines transportation can only be a good thing, despite some teething problems. This will meet some resistance due to the Government agencies losing money gained from licensing and metering services. But once larger firms embrace new technology, we will see many more services pop up.