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back to article London cabbies to offer EVEN WORSE service in protest against Uber

As if London didn't have enough traffic on its streets, the capital's cabbies have vowed to bring the city to a standstill in a protest against the taxi-booking phone app Uber. The big smoke's grumpiest drivers are furious that minicabs are now using Uber to calculate fares and tout for business. Union bosses claimed the use of …

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Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

Union bosses claimed the use of Uber is tantamount to installing a taximeter – which is illegal in minicabs.

And why is it illegal, there must be a good reason for ... oh!

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Brigitte Grouwels

Brigitte Grouwels needs to understand that to Americans, being called a "cowboy" is a complement. To Americans, being called "European" is an insult.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

Not trying to rain on the parade, but I seem to recall the reason minicabs can't have taximeters is because they're not subject to the same rigors as full cabs, which require certain specifications, licenses, etc.

IOW, are minicabs held to the same standards as full cabs? If not, then there's at least a valid reason for the restriction.

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Re: AC Re: Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

".....which require certain specifications, licenses, etc....." Too true!

Firstly, the London cabbie has to learn The Knowledge, a test that covers the 320 main routes through London, all the street names involved, and landmarks and important/popular buildings on the route. To pass the test, they have to be able to answer questions about a random route in an 'interesting, informative and cheerful manner'. I had a mate doing The Knowledge when I was in my first year of my degree and I think I had the far easier learning job! He took six attempts to get his license, failing once because he could not tell the examiner what year the Battle of Trafalgar took place whilst talking through a route past Nelson's Column. Your average cabbie knows more about London and it's history than the majority of the tour guides in the city.

A London cab has to be in good order or the cabbie's license can be revoked, which means they are usually cleaner than your own car, well-serviced, and the design is spacious and comfortable. Your London cabbie also has to be 'of good character' and not have a criminal record, something which Über in no way whatsoever guarantees about their random driver. In short, you could place an order for Uber for an important meeting for your team of four, get a nice pic of 'Ted' and his Merc on your phone, only for the reality to be some guy called Abdul, driving a clapped out Nissan Sunny, with an A-to-Z and a cheap Android phone as his navigation tools. Abdul then proves to speak very limited English, have SFA idea where anything is in London, and you will have to sit on his stained cloth seats whilst he gets lost and you miss your meeting.

Sorry, but after using cabs in places like Eurpoe and the US, it is a relief to come back to the massively better service provided by the London Hackney cabbies. As a cabbie might put it, Uber can go shove their cut-price offering where the sun don't shine, sunshine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

I don't care if the cabbie knows about history. I'm not paying him to talk.

…Could this be yet another barrier to entry set up for the purpose of limiting competition? Hmm…?

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Re: AC Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

As long as he can type "Paddington Station" into his satnav and follow the instructions on the screen, I'm happy, because even if he takes a sub-optimal route, it will still be a lot cheaper.

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Re: AC Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

Sorry, but after using cabs in places like Eurpoe and the US, it is a relief to come back to the massively better service provided by the London Hackney cabbies. As a cabbie might put it, Uber can go shove their cut-price offering where the sun don't shine, sunshine.

So, regardless of the new competition you would welcome the current cabbies. So what is wrong with having the competition? Let the paying punters choose which service they want.

If the current cabbies are providing such excellent service and value for money then surely they should have nothing to fear from the upstart?

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Trollface

Re: AC Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

As a cabbie might put it, Uber can go shove their cut-price offering where the sun don't shine, sunshine.

Must be the most self-defeating addie for QUALITY cab services ever.

But thanks for the astroturf.

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Re: AC Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

London Taxi's run their meter from the engine so charge based on revolutions, hence sitting still clocks up 60p a minute

Mini cabs charge per mile plus a bit for waiting time

Also, try getting a black taxi outside central London of an evening, they're all full of suits on company accounts and wont want to take you or I home

Mini cabs have plenty of uses filling in where black cabs wont or refuse to go "not worth my while mate" often cited when I want to go from city to harlow at night (I have 2 black cab driver relatives, neither of who I would ant to get into their taxi's)

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Re: Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

> the reason minicabs can't have taximeters is because they're not subject to the same rigors as full cabs, which require certain specifications, licenses, etc.

What utter bollocks. That may well be the given reason, but if it were the real reason, we wouldn't see meters in minicabs in any of the UK's other towns or cities, either, because the cars aren't of a high enough specification to have them installed. But of course we do.

Have to say, this article was the first I'd heard that minicabs aren't allowed meters in London. What the actual bucketing fuck? So London minicab drivers just haggle any old price with you, or what? A meter is just a sign that you're not being overcharged. Everywhere else I've been in the UK, the lack of a meter is a big red flag that the driver can't be trusted and you shouldn't get in the car. Which I suppose would be why London cabbies have successfully banned their competition from having them, the bastards. What a blatant and appalling bit of protectionism. A plague on whichever politicians caved to it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

"A meter is just a sign that you're not being overcharged"

Oh really?

When that thoughtless twat jumped under a train on valentines day I spent hours trying to get home in time to go out for a meal with my wife (don't know the details so if it was an accident I apologise for any offence caused - if it was deliberate then we're well rid of such a selfish cunt).

At one point I was desperate enough to ask a cabbie for an estimate of how much it would cost to get me home (this was from Stratford to Colchester).

£200 quid. Wouldn't budge an inch, and actually got quite rudely dismissive after I offered him £100.

If this new model offers a better service and more in line with what the customer wants, then all they [the cabbies] are doing is trying to keep a hold of their monopoly. A pox on them.

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Re: Cancer. Cancer everyhwere!

> this was from Stratford to Colchester

That's an unusual journey. Above a certain distance, the meter doesn't apply and they're free to negotiate whatever fare they want with you.

> If this new model offers a better service and more in line with what the customer wants, then all they [the cabbies] are doing is trying to keep a hold of their monopoly. A pox on them.

Agreed and agreed.

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/Eastenders mode on.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFACKIN CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANTS!!!!

I suggest they leave it. It's not worth it. Unless perchance he's out of order.

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You wha'?

Bang aht of ordah, me ole china. Cammon, you can rabbit on abaht it being only a bladdy app on the dog an' bone, but it's taking bread orf us Lahndan cabbies, innit? Ow we going to pay for a pig's ear dahn the rub-a-dub if these bleedin' septic tanks are trying to muscle into our manor? Bit of decent cockney twatting's wot they need, mate, I'll tell yer. When I was a saucepan, we knew 'ow to sort geezers like them aht.

I 'ad that Reggie Kray in the back of the cab once.

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Trollface

Re: You wha'?

Are you perchance suggesting a dry slap?

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Re: I 'ad that Reggie Kray in the back of the cab once.

Reggie's a ginger beer? How would you like both feet nailed to the floor this time?

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Happy

I say old chaps. I'm awfully sorry, I'm afraid I didn't catch a word of that. Would you mind repeating it in the Queen's own? Top-hole what!

For some unaccountable reason, El Reg doesn't have a twiddling moustache icon! Well I mean, dash it all! What a total shower!

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Re: You wha'?

Yoof Acker....

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Change is not fair!

Surely GPS means we dont need drivers with the "knowledge" anymore. Massive cost saving for consumers. Shame for taxi drivers but if we blocked everything that put people out of work we would still be living in mud huts.

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There's a difference

"if we blocked everything that put people out of work"

Nope, we don't do that in this country - ever.

See Margaret Thatcher and the Closure of the Mining Industry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's a difference

Ah yes, the miners strikes. The go-to for anyone who wants to make a political point, has nothing to say, but thinks they should talk anyway.

They're a great lesson in historical subjectivity. On the one side you had a chancer willing to exploit the miners for personal and political gain, only to abandon them the moment they no longer served purpose; and on the other you had Margaret Thatcher.

Or vice-versa.

The truth is that our political class turned the people of this country against one another so they could score points, and all you bloody idiots fall for it time and time again, picking sides, proclaiming yourselves right and the others wrong, and all the while they take another sliver of control from your life and claim another penny from your pocket, and pat you on the head and tell you it's the other lot that did it.

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Re: There's a difference

Spot on. Have an upvote. And a pint 'cos it's Friday.

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Re: Change is not fair!

"Surely GPS means we dont need drivers with the "knowledge" anymore."

Actually you do. One thing that I learned over 10 years of using Satnav, half of that as a lorry driver doing 100,000 miles a year, was that it was only really any good for someone driving as a living for the "last mile" or so and that even with things like Tomtom Traffic IQ it couldn't route for certain times of the day as good as someone with knowledge of road conditions could. There were plenty of times it'd route me a way I would never ever consider given the time of day I would be at a certain point.

Satnav will 100% get you from point A to point B, that there is no doubt. Whether or not the route is the best that it could be is a different question entirely and usually the answer to that is no.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Change is not fair!

Works both ways, Google nav managed to show almost exactly to a few tens of metres the level of congestion on different sections of the M4 yesterday and the prediction for arrival time was spot on.

As it can now re-route based on whether it is going to take longer to go through the congestion than around it and it stores historical congestion data for times of day, days of week and location it also has the potential to route based upon that - even accounting for how many others have been advised of a less congested route.

Links in to social can also highlight accidents or hazards on the way far quicker than the traffic updates on the radio can.

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Re: There's a difference

@Anonymous Coward, the first one in this reply 'thread' (hey what happened to the timestamps of posts to identify which AC you're referring to??)

Too damn right, companies love to do this to divert the attention away form them, like getting their users to blame each other for the service being bad, especially ISPs who have been using their users as scapegoats for their lack of bandwidth since the dawn of 'unlimited' internet access...

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Re: Change is not fair!

As far as satnav (GPS, etc.) goes, much as Conor says, you still need to exert your own intelligence and knowledge.

I did a trip over the holidays, and in order to allegedly save a few minutes in larger cities (Cincinnati, St. Louis, Denver) it seemed to go into 'tour slums' mode (old highways predating the interstates). I still haven't found where I can undo that setting. Had to put up with interminable suggestions to get off the interstates and on to surface streets, sometimes for as much as 60 miles (coming into St. Louis it was advised to go through East St. Louis on surface streets). Neighborhoods where if you get a flat you keep driving " 'cause rims are cheap."

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Re: There's a difference

I too wish for the glory days when if you were young and born in the wrong part of the country then the there was a great career for you digging heaps of black shit out of the ground half a mile out under the seabed... for as long as your lungs lasted at least.

But never mind the miners. What about the dockers? That evil bitch Thatcher did for them too by allowing container ports.

Yes. In the glory days, when you were born in the wrong part of the country, there was a great career for you offloading endless sacks of rice and flour and bananas by hand and wheeling them around the dockside... until your back gave in of course.

Spare a thought too for the millions of women who, born into the wrong part of the country, had a great career as a working mum scrubbing the black shit out of clothes by hand half the day. All lost thanks to whichever evil politician at the time decided to allow the use of 'electricity' to power washing machines. (and all sorts of other evil labour-displacing devices).

Solidarity with the masses! Down with Thatcher! Up The Revolution! Etc.

When will we ever learn?

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Re: Change is not fair!

Were you going through these cities or to some destination within them? I've done both in all three cities you listed, and never had that happen. On routes through I got routed on the best highway through (not always staying on the interstate route, often the big cities have beltways that are a better through route - straighter, more lanes than the old interstate route). On routes into the cities it used the best nearest main highway as close as possible to the destination, then surface streets. I've used TomTom and several smartphone satnav apps. Makes me wonder what awful heap of satnav you were using.

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Re: Change is not fair!

Umm...not any more. With smartphone satnav with live traffic awareness and the ability to consider traffic when routing, the phone can actually be better than human experience, because the phone knows about the accident 5 miles ahead that has jammed up everything on what would normally be the best route. It still doesn't always figure the best way, but it gets better every year. And it's way better than the dumb disconnected satnav of the past.

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Anonymous Coward

Tried a similar thing 10 years ago but ran into similar problems.

It's a shame that it's taken an American company to really get the black cab drivers' backs up - Could have really used the publicity that Uber are now getting.

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Maybe the cabbies in London ....

.... should ask themselves why Uber is proving popular?

Could it be due to the fact that in an Uber cab they will not be subjected to a torrent of abuse because it isn't a nice fat £50 fare? Such wonderful responses as 'Get out, use the f***ing bus' when stating your destination is exactly what customers using your stupidly overpriced service wish for.

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Re: Maybe the cabbies in London ....

Well, I was going to say that "So, this means that the opinion of cabbies not open to using Uber is going to plummet, right? Nice own goal there, lads,". Looks like you got there first, though. :)

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Re: Maybe the cabbies in London ....

Could not care less about the torrent of abuse. Torrent of attempts to deliberately defraud the customer by giving him the scenic route if the customer has an accent, well that is a different story. London cabbies are nowdays as bad as the Paris and Moscow ones which are probably some of the worst in Europe.

As far as Uber - I would never use them because as some other people have noted you do not know what you are getting. There are plenty of private hire companies, get the phone of one that is big enough to always have a car in your area and use it. Excellent service, comfortable cars (instead of that abominable tourist bait on wheels which the cabbies drive) and ~ 50% of the price. Vetted too.

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Re: Maybe the cabbies in London ....

As others have said - never, ever use a cab anywhere, unless you know the route like the back of your hand and are willing to argue the toss when - not if - the driver deviates from the route. If going somewhere you don't know:

1) Find the number of a couple of private hire companies (if on business, ask someone at the place you are going who they use), and book ahead (which can be as you are getting to the destination if there could reasonably be a delay - e.g. Edinburgh to London).

2) If you got the number from the place you are visiting, say so when you book - no private hire company wants to lose the good opinion of regular customers.

3) ALWAYS get a price for the journey when you call.

4) Use a trip-logging program on your phone to make a record of the route for comparison later.

4) Be sure to get a receipt, even if not on expenses - it makes complaining easier if you need to do so later.

I can't remember if I have told this before: had to go to Glasgow on business last year. I hadn't formulated my above rules at that point (only recently started using the car less and public transport more). Got a cab outside the station - took almost 15 minutes to get to the main hospital, cost about £12, but was shown lots of Glasgow's "main tourist attractions". Three other people attending the same training who were on the same train (didn't know then at that point, so couldn't share with them) also got a cab outside the station - 25 minutes' journey and £16. On the way back we asked the organisers to book us a private hire car - 10 minutes, £8.50, and I didn't recognise a single road after leaving the venue and arriving at the station.

I don't trust cabbies - they might not rape you, but they will certainly screw you ...

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Re: Maybe the cabbies in London ....

Err, there is one major point that I have not seen addressed:

A minicab, privateh hire or London taxi are all licensed, as part of the the vehcle is also licensed as well as the driver. This enforces safety and more importantly, insurance. It would appear that any oik with a car can join this and decide to run a business, without the overheads that professionals have. If that is the case then Uber should not be permited. You cannot ran a business on domestic car insurance. If you do, you are NOT INSURED. Uber drivers and vehicles must undergo the stringent checks. At the end of the day it is for the safetly of the customer. But of course that appears not to matter to many posters as it is cheap.

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Re: Maybe the cabbies in London ....

> It would appear that any oik with a car can join this and decide to run a business, without the overheads that professionals have. If that is the case then Uber should not be permited. You cannot ran a business on domestic car insurance. If you do, you are NOT INSURED. Uber drivers and vehicles must undergo the stringent checks.

You're not following this, are you? Uber meet all local regulations, including the requirement to have proper insurance. TFL have looked into the complaint that Uber are breaking the law and ruled that they are not. In other words, they are regulated.

Try looking stuff up instead of making it up.

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Gets worse before it gets better. But who said it'll get better

So, you are faced with a competitor who undercuts you, actually turns up, is prepared to take you where you want to go (sarf ov the river????) and has a more flexible business. How do you challenge that?

> the demonstration ... will attract many many thousands of cabs

Obvious, innit. Withdraw ALL of your services, leaving the other guy to be the only game in town.

Maybe what London (well, OK: what everywhere) needs is a taxi service who's only barrier to entry is the servicabillity of the vehicle and the lack of criminality of the driver. After that, let anyone with the right insurance in on the game - and let them charge whatever rate they please.

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Re: Gets worse before it gets better. But who said it'll get better

Exactly, who says that any cab company or person should have a "territory" for life (like NYC)? If the competition has a better mousetrap, let them catch mice. Protest yourself out of a job.

By the same token (pun intended) there soon will be no reason to be a taxi cab, bus, subway or tram driver because Google's driverless cars will soon take over the entire market whether it be a bus or a cab they will drive themselves by GPS and all you will have to do is tell the "driver " (computer) where to go. Subways would benefit from automation right now because properly designed controls don't fall to sleep and drive twice as fast as conditions allow. Notice I said "properly designed".

I envision something like the "Johnny Cab" from Total Recall becoming the standard. Trouble is the computer has to recognize the voice commands. SOME customers are going to have trouble with that just like they do today. Should leave some jobs in the maintenance of such systems.

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Charge whatever rate they please?

That's fine if you're calling taxis with an app, so you can book the lowest bid or set a maximum price you're willing to pay.

But how's that supposed to work for flagging down taxis? Are you supposed to flag down one after another and ask them the cost for your trip? Or do you just get in and hope they don't tell you its a hundred pounds when you get to your destination that was only three blocks away (tourist trap special!)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Charge whatever rate they please?

Well you seeing as you 'flag them down' using an app you can know the price in advance.

Wait 50 minutes for the cheapest cab or use the one just down the road for a little bit more...

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Re: Gets worse before it gets better. But who said it'll get better

"Subways would benefit from automation right now because properly designed controls don't fall to sleep and drive twice as fast as conditions allow. Notice I said "properly designed"."

Come to Lille. The Lille Metro has, for *over*30*years*, operated a fully automatic driverless metro service. The driverless nature of the system means that the "headway" of the system (technical language for the spacing between consecutive trains) is one minute at peak times, which is a lot of trains per hour, and beyond the capabilities of human-operated trains. Lille operates the world's first system using VAL (Véhicule Automatique Lèger = Light Automatic Vehicle, originally standing for Villeneuve d'Ascq à Lille) trains, although there are now many such systems in cities around the world.

The headway of a metro / underground / subway system is strongly influenced by the nature of the control system, and automatic systems are always able to have a shorter headway than human-driven systems. The main cost-increasing aspect is the need for gates on the platforms to prevent people falling onto the tracks, as the automatic system cannot see obstacles that have fallen on the tracks.

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Re: Gets worse before it gets better. But who said it'll get better @ Dan Paul

Do you really think the taxi-mafia will allow Google cars? Driverless taxis will have a lot of "accidents", from four punctures all the way to mysterious dousing in petrol near naked flames.

The buggy-whip manufacturers didn't have a clue ...

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you're having a tin mate...

"most of which will never see a penny of tax paid in the UK"

priceless, coming from the LTDA.

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Re: you're having a tin mate...

> never see a penny of tax

Even if a cab driver did manage to avoid having their fares recorded, they still pay a significant amount of tax (as we all do).

There's tax on fuel: 58p per litre - tax on the fuel tax (VAT) - making UK diesel the most expensive in the world¹. Then there's VAT on buying the car, car tax and tax on the servicing costs. Do Uber cars have to pay the congestion charge? - another tax!

Even when a cabbie does get home with his (or her) untaxed wad, pretty much everything he/she buys will have 20% VAT to pay on it, too - plus any "sin taxes" like booze & ciggies. Now you might think "it's only VAT - everyone pays that" but bear in mind that VAT is the government's second biggest earner and that you pay the same rate (unlike income taxes) whether you are on minimum wage or £1million a year - and it's easy to realise that even cash in hand will never escape the clutches of the HMRC.

[1] Daily Telegraph, May 6

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Re: you're having a tin mate...

Taxis and registered private hire vehicles are both exempt from congestion charge.

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Re: you're having a tin mate...

So the minicab driver working for Uber will not be paying UK fuel levies?

He will not be spending his earnings in the country he lives?

Your arguments are no different for the competition, so you make no point at all...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: you're having a tin mate...

And LTI loves Londoners so much it moved to India so it's workers will feel at home.

Oh, and the fact they protested against being able to use comfortable Mercedes taxi's instead of overpriced "heater? that's an optional extra at £2,000" Indian made London taxi's, well that worked, don't see any Merc taxi's do we.

Protest away and end up like so many Unionised jobs, outsourced to people willing to work and put up with no monopoly

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When it's rush hour in the rain...

..you will find your Uber fare has shot up. When sunny and not crowded, the fare will drop down. I prefer knowing that i have a level playing field -- I don't want to be standing under an umbrella discovering that they've priced me out of an Uber-ride.

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Re: When it's rush hour in the rain...

"rush hour in the rain... "

So you can get a regular taxi then?

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"Union bosses claimed the use of Uber is tantamount to installing a taximeter – which is illegal in minicabs."

Is that just a London thing? Round here all the "private hire" taxis have meters in them...

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