Controversial, innovative and highly-popular, Uber – the technology-driven, worldwide taxi company – is changing the way the public think about private transportation. But could their business be threatened here in London due to a crackdown on private hire?
Since their launch back in 2011, Uber have changed the face of the private car hire industry. Through easy-to-use mobile phone apps, Uber have introduced a business model which many have not been able to keep up with.
In London over the past few years, and in other major cities around the world, Uber have met both praise and criticism. Whilst some customers have enjoyed reduced waiting times, lower fares and easier access, Uber has often been challenged by governing bodies and other taxi companies.
Due to Uber’s quick-fire approach to private hire, many have questioned the legality of Uber and its use of unlicensed taxicab drivers. This has led to a number of lawsuits and demonstrations around the world, including protests from London’s black cab drivers.
Transport for London consultation
Despite heathy opposition though, Uber has continued to grow around the world, launching in new cities and locations every month. It’s a service which has proved extremely popular in London over the past few years, and one that sees millions of users every year. But all that could be at risk, as transport authority Transport for London (TfL) are set to launch a public consultation to improve the regulations that govern the capital’s private hire trade.
Problems for Uber
This consultation could mean big things for Uber in London moving forward, who could see their services disputed by new regulations.
“In recent years the private hire industry has grown exponentially and technology has also developed rapidly
“The consultation sets out a number of ways that standards across the industry could be raised, ensuring Londoners can continue to benefit from the service provided by licensed private hire vehicles. No final decisions have been made and we’re keen to hear a range of views from the trade and from Londoners, too.”
Whilst originally ok with Uber’s services, TfL has grown increasingly worried about traffic growth on the roads of London, and have now decided to consult on new proposals for private hire companies. Some of which could have a huge effect on Uber’s key features.
Draft proposals include measures that would force transport operators to provide booking confirmation details to the passenger at least 5 minutes before a journey is set to start. Which would prove problematic for Uber, who on average pick up passengers just 3 minutes after they request a car.
No doubt extremely unpopular with Uber, head of UK operations, Jo Bertram responded to the plans saying:
“These bureaucratic new rules will not improve your ride, they’re designed to address the concerns of black cab drivers, who feel under pressure from increased competition. But the answer is to reduce the onerous regulations cabbies face today – not increase them for everyone else.”
Whether Uber’s services will be restricted in the future remains to be seen. But as London’s transport body prepares to consult on over 25 new draft proposals, only time will tell.
You can find out more on the Transport for London website.
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Until next time…