Feeds

back to article PICS ON GROUND: Cabbies PARALYZE London in Uber rebellion

London’s black cabs went ahead with their protest against the Uber taxi-getter app today, bringing traffic around the centre of the city to a standstill (at times anyway). Black cabs crawl along Whitehall Black cabs crawl along Whitehall. Credit: Andrew Orlowski The cabs have parked up around Trafalgar Square in an organised …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Nice Traffic System You've Got Here...

..It'd be a shame if anything *happened* to it.

So black cabbies want us to only use them, and not Uber. And to show this they block up traffic for a day, causing frustration and hatred against black cabs. Not only does this seem like a bully move, stubborn in the face of change, but thanks to the Streisand Effect, they've ensured a *fantastic* amount of free publicity for Uber.

If the black cabs are blocking traffic and causing me aggravation because they hate Uber, then.. *counts on fingers, stares into distance* ... then.. I.. love Uber!

56
6
Bronze badge

Re: Nice Traffic System You've Got Here...

To be fair, the London licensed taxi system is not quite the protection racket that it is in, say, San Francisco. If you can pass 'the Knowledge' test, haven't any significant criminal convictions, and have a few hundred pounds for test etc fees, you too can be licensed.

What you charge is then regulated and you can't go 'Nah, not taking you there, mate' without risking losing your licence.

11
1

Re: Nice Traffic System You've Got Here...

Indeed - we don't have the 'medallion' scheme that some cities do.

HOWEVER in the world of GPS and live traffic updates the 'knowledge' is massively devalued.

Putting aside the fact most of us have an "arsehole cabbie" story, their previous asset has been devalued by the world changing around them. Like wot happened to the rest of us.

A few cabbies tried to setup Hailo to compete with Uber - and were shot down as scabs by their former colleagues.

Stepping back, we can either accept that cabbies can hold back the tide with an as-yet unspecified differentiator - or I can laugh maniacally as they go under the tide of progress.

*laughs*

13
3
Bronze badge
Mushroom

Re: Nice Traffic System You've Got Here...

The Knowledge is just that, GPS is a "i think this is the correct way" or, "turn left into the Thames" system.

I guess you also want to be served a Latte on your taxi rides in the future too.

3
23
Silver badge

Re: Nice Traffic System You've Got Here...

Exactly southpacificpom, The Knowledge is just that, knowledge. They 'know' London. If you get into an Uber car and say "I want to go to that thingy with the guys in dresses and funny hats." You'll probably end up at a variety club with transvestite singers. Get into a London Taxi and you'll end up at the Tower...

As a cabbie you also have to pass certain background checks, you have to have commercial insurance, your vehicle has to be regularly checked. Do Uber drivers have to meet those requirements? Does Uber check all their drivers have the proper insurance? Does it insist that the vehicle is checked over weekly or monthly for safety? (I've no idea, I've never applied to be an Uber driver)

If they are plying for hire, then they should meet the same standards as other services. I'm not against Uber plying for hire, but their drivers and vehicles should be forced to meet the same standards as the competition and apply for the relevant licences.

9
9
Silver badge

Re: Nice Traffic System You've Got Here...

I don't know about London, but certainly in the Midland, nearly every private hire company has to licensed by the local authority, have special "MOT's" and have CRB checks.

And as for the knowledge, in my experience, that involves going "ooo he has a Midlands accent", i can fuck him over, not realising I know my way around quite well.

And why is it impossible I can't get a cab to go 2 miles out of the centre, yet I can easily get a cab in the Midlands that would happily go via 4 towns and complete a 40 mile trip. yes done it many, many times.

So screw the knowledge and change to the times, say to the 1990's would be a start.

The word we are looking for is Luddite.

13
1

Re: Nice Traffic System You've Got Here...

Yeah sod the cabbies, I'll take the tube - they won't strike on me.

6
1
Paris Hilton

yep, not endearing them to me either

technological threats to livelihood are nasty for those on the receiving end

but i don't recall taxi drivers protesting as others were put out of business or lost their jobs due either to offshoring or simple elimination

in fact quite the opposite, they seem happy to rake it in when there's a tube strike due to the de-staffing of stations

paris because french taxis are mad

22
3
Silver badge

It's not really the technological aspect it is rather the uneven playing field of them not being, and not having to be, licensed. I can understand them having the shits with that. They have additional costs and obligations over some chummy just chipping up in his car.

4
4
Silver badge

Re: it is rather the uneven playing field

The playing field is uneven because they haven't made the incremental changes they should have been as the technology was emerging. They've hidden behind a government monopoly. When you do that, your comeuppance is always rather severe.

6
0

French taxis..

pfft, try Naples taxi drivers!

Imagine the Italian Job (the proper one not the shonky remake with that Wahlberg bloke) on speed and you are getting close.

Possible the scariest 20 minutes of my life.

0
0

They are, and do have to be, licensed.

0
0
TRT
Silver badge

Uber versus taximeter. Tsk...

...that hackneyed old argument again.

20
2
Anonymous Coward

Completely ridiculous move by the cabbies. The publicity for UBER has been immense with downloads increasing by 850% today http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uber-signups-increase-850-as-black-cab-drivers-stage-london-taxi-protest-9530061.html

The vast majority of tweets seem to be criticising the black cabs (in general as well as for this action).

Branson has done quite a good post about the situation http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/whether-hailo-uber-or-cabs-great-service-always-wins

After them vandalising and being violent to their own app (Hailo), this disruption and massive reverse publicity Black Cabs are just their own worst enemy. Rather than realising the challenge they face and meeting it head on with a great marketing campaign and a great service they fall back to the tired old methods of the past. Once the economics of driving a cab start to suffer they will blame the Mayor, TFL, Hailo, Uber, the public, the media etc but they will spend no time looking back and reflecting their own actions and whether they could have seen this coming and adapted.

32
1

"After them vandalising and being violent to their own app (Hailo), this disruption and massive reverse publicity Black Cabs are just their own worst enemy. Rather than realising the challenge they face and meeting it head on with a great marketing campaign and a great service they fall back to the tired old methods of the past. Once the economics of driving a cab start to suffer they will blame the Mayor, TFL, Hailo, Uber, the public, the media etc but they will spend no time looking back and reflecting their own actions and whether they could have seen this coming and adapted."

Totally disagree. Uber is another attempt to appease to the "I want this, I want that now crowd". Okay, maybe the black cab community are bit short-sighted in the technology race, but I DO NOT want automisation to be the winner such a renowned and excellent service which the black cabs already offer.

I've never had problems with black cabs. It's the quick solution when public transport fails or won't meet the needs to move stuff around. I used one yesterday to shift my girlfriend's suitcase and numerous bags. Having a driver who's personality wins outright of the customer shows why black cabs have lasted the test of time. He knew exactly where to go without wasting time on a faffy GPS system. There's already private firm apps that are already available for specific-need users or anyone outside zone 1/2 of London which I've used without fail.

Uber is an attempt to spoil the amazing institution and undermines the services of the black cabs we already have. If Uber end up being the public service of Addison Lee (awful on the roads in general), then I'll refuse to use them. TfL should backup the black cabs and offer them a solution to the digital world (via their apps and website). Not the other way round. Any cost savings via Uber are going to be minimal anyway. The cost of running cars + petrol + maintenance is not going to be any different to black cabs. In a way, slowly destroying the black cabs will ruin a tourist recognition that's essential for a city to be trusted and thrive.

1
11
gv

London traffic at a standstill

Any different to a normal day?

17
0
Bronze badge
Coat

So is a taxi that's not in Westminster a black scab?

12
0

Argument

One of the arguments I've seen which I have quite a bit of sympathy with relates to the surge pricing in Uber (which incidentally I've never used) - i.e. if you want a taxi when its raining its likely to cost more and a *lot* more in more extreme events.

This does mean that should the Uber model cause normal taxis to be a non-viable business then there could be real issues with getting access to transport for those on low incomes at those times. Ultimately that's a social policy question.

2
13

Re: Argument

Those on low incomes can't afford any kind of taxis, which are luxury transport.

However, the Ueber surge pricing model is the same one that worked so well for Californian energy. It's basically at the root of one of the Enron scams, i.e. get a monopoly that allows you to vary prices according to demand/supply, then ensure supply is always short; profit.

The present system (monopoly of black cabs but a grey secondary market to keep them relatively honest) is one that would appeal to Lord Vetinari, that exponent of self policing where possible. The Ueber model is one that would appeal to the directors of Goldman Sachs.

16
3
Silver badge

Re: Argument

those on low incomes..

london cabs?

can you heard yourself?

5
2

Re: Argument

fair point re "low income" - what I actually meant was not on banker salaries.

1
0
Childcatcher

Re: Argument

During the periods when Uber is using surge pricing, you'll note that you can't actually find a taxi (e.g. in NYC when it's raining). The choice isn't between surge pricing and normal pricing; it's between surge pricing and not being able to get a ride at all (unless you get really lucky).

10
0
Bronze badge

Re: Argument

Price surging - that's one of the problems. Taxi authorities regulate the maximum taxi fare, by bypassing this Uber is breaking the law while claiming it isn't.

2
14

Re: Argument

Supply of Uber drivers is not nearly as fixed as are licensed cabs.

A surge in price only increases profit as an interim step to increasing supply of currently active drivers. Incentive for drivers to make themselves available for extra/longer hours.

Adam Smith rides again.

8
0

My arse

Capitalism votes pretty much immediately.

I'm sure Uber costs go up when it rains - but surely it's nice to have an option as those full back-cabs roll past and won't pick you up however much you're willing to pay.

7
0

But

That's simply an option you didn't have before.

How can having an alternative offered, outside of the previous market, be considered 'bad'

If all the cabbies switched to picking up Uber fares at a premium, then I could see how the consumer might be pissed off... but well... there's nothing to stop the cabbies doing this - so wtf are they pissed about?

7
0

Re: Argument

Prices rise when demand exceeds supply ?? I'm shocked... shocked I tell you!!

Its God's way of telling you to stay home or start an "only in the rain" taxi service.

Anyway, how long have you lived in the nasty capitalist West ??

7
1
Silver badge

Re: Argument

It's always amusing to watch somebody whinge about "those on low incomes" when what they really mean is "I don't want market pricing to apply to me."

4
1
Bronze badge
Stop

Re: But

> there's nothing to stop the cabbies doing this [charging a premium price]

Yes there is! A taxi driver will charge you EXACTLY what the fare reading on his taximeter says!!

A regulated taxi service is a gem, and not one you should consider throwing away for the "privilege" of summoning some jerk with a TomTom and a Fiesta who'll charge you whatever he thinks he will.

Plus, hands up who has actually navigated around greater London using a satnav? They're crap, for anything but the simplest journeys, based on my experiences with both Garmin and Google Maps.

0
3

Re: But

Indeed they do charge a premium price, the fact that it is all set in rules and added to the meter before the journey has even begun makes all the difference I am sure... unless you are paying by card obviously, in which case you get to pay a little bit more than EXACTLY what the meter says... from the lovely TFL webpage itself:

Taxi fares:

Extra charges

Extra charges must be added on the meter at the start of the journey. There are no extra charges for luggage, additional passengers or carrying of assistance dogs.

Telephone and online bookings

There is an extra charge of up to £2 if the taxi is booked by phone or online. When booking a taxi, other charges may also apply and terms and conditions may vary so please check when you book.

Heathrow Airport

There is an extra charge of £2.80 for journeys that start from Heathrow Airport ranks.

Christmas and New Year

There is an extra charge of £4 for journeys made between 20:00 on 24 December and 06:00 on 27 December and between 20:00 on 31 December and 06:00 on 2 January 2015.

Bank cards

Some taxis accept credit or debit cards and there is a maximum charge of £1 or 10% of the metered fare, whichever is higher.

*******************

I'm not sure quite how they add "£1 or 10% of the metered fare, whichever is higher" for using bank cards, if extra charges "must be added on the meter at the start of the journey", but I'm sure I am not supposed to ask :)

here's another link.. seems london cabbies change their pricing based on the clock, not if it is raining or not :)

http://www.londonblacktaxis.net/faretariiff.htm

1
0
Mushroom

Hey thanks - Black cabs

Now I know about Uber. And so does everyone else. Potentially cheaper or I could get an upmarket car. Sounds like a great idea. Just registered.

Nice own goal there.

17
4
Silver badge

Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

Like all these internet startups, Uber is making its money by ignoring the rules that existing players have to abide by, and relying on the customers being too dumb to consider for a moment that some of those rules are there to stop them being cheated, robbed, assaulted, abducted or murdered by random strangers.

Actually, why bother with the app at all? Just stand with your thumb out and get in the first car that picks you up. It'll be cheaper too...

Way back when people started carrying passengers in their (horse) cars for money, there was no regulation at all. But then the nasty people realised that posing as a hire cab was an easy way to pick up victims, and the less nasty ones realised they could bully other operators out of their patch and then raise their prices as a result of the phony "scarcity".

Human nature has not changed just because people have fucking iPhones now.

17
31
Silver badge

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

All their drivers are licensed. They just hook punters up with cab companies.

12
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

Of the various things I've noted in the paper, using a black cab doesn't reduce the chance of getting fucked over all it means is that a person doesn't have acriminal conviction which isn't much proof against them being a crazy rapist/muggger/killer. It just means they haven't been caught yet.

Also if memory servers Uber has tools in it which will send you the license plate / driver details and also forward these to designated people if so desired.

I've personally never understood why in London only black cabs can have a taximeter. Every other place in England get by fine.

15
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

"that some of those rules are there to stop them being cheated, robbed, assaulted, abducted or murdered by random strangers."

Yeah, right. Never been any hassles with Black Cab drivers? It's almost as though John Worboys had never existed and wasn't one of Britain's most prolific serial rapists?

Uber drivers are already, or need to become registered, or are you now saying that all Minicabs (across the UK) need to be shut down as only London Black Cabs are 'safe'?

It's not as though Private Hire licensees have to go through a vetting process? Oh yeah, they do actually - they need to have an Enhanced CRB (the one that lists even non-convictions). With Uber you also get details of the registered car, the driver and your friends can automatically track your progress and see the driver's details (can't do that in a black cab).

You can even dispute the fare or the route with Uber - good luck with that in a cab if you don't know the area and whether there was a better route ("blockage on Knightsbridge, that's why we've gotta go via the M25, innit". Also if a fare is accepted on Uber you want have to put up with them saying "Oh you wan't to go that side of the river, sorry can't do it at this time of the night".

So in reality your claim is a load of rubbish that is being peddled out by all the Cabbies because their only 'legitimate' gripe is actually that they feel that a smartphone is a meter (FFS!) and they are not prepared to wait for a court to make the ruling as they know there is a good likelyhood that a court will just say, "err, no it's a GPS, and not wired in to the car"

Lastly just remember that anyone can buy a secondhand cab and drive around London picking up someone who is hailing them, but only registered drivers can accept an Uber requests.

25
1
Bronze badge
WTF?

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

Re: " It just means they haven't been caught yet."

That is the crappiest argument I've ever seen in El Reg.

4
15
Bronze badge

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

London has its own taxi legislation. One of the things the recent review (see other post) recommended is abolishing this and making UK-wide taxi legislation the same.

2
0
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

That is the crappiest argument I've ever seen in El Reg.

You must be new here!

23
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

Uh, no. No. NO. Wrong!

All you have to do it Google / DuckDuckGo "Uber unlicensed taxis" and "Uber unlicensed drivers" to have your (wrong) ideas corrected.

Uber is a "ride sharing" app - the app hooks you up with (private) drivers who are operating as a ride-share business. They pick you up, along with any other riders, and you share the vehicle to your (various) destinations.

Why don't you try

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uber_%28company%29

for a change?! The truth will enlighten you, you know.

3
15
Anonymous Coward

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

Uh, no. No. NO. Wrong!

Jeez, are you really spreading this rubbish because your protest was a disaster? You have to be a licensed private hire driver (which includes having an eCRB) and have commercial insurance for hire and reward. This is the UK not some unregulated city in Gristanikan. If the drivers weren't licensed it would be illegal for them to accept private hire jobs and Uber as the facilitator would also be breaking the law.

The drivers would be arrested and Uber would be closed down, there would be no need for protests over whether a GPS is a Meter or not they would not be operating.

The requirement for cabs and private hire in the UK are reasonably strict and all need to be licenced to operate. Unlicensed cabs exist but these just ply their trade from the roadside.

So check your facts first before spreading FUD.

14
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

"rules are there to stop them being cheated, robbed, assaulted, abducted or murdered by random strangers"

Cheated ... Uber doesn't allow you to pay the driver directly and you can dispute any route later if it was not the quickest, you even get the route taken

Cheated ... Black cab can take you any route he wants if you don't know the locality

Robbed ... Uber records the driver who is coming to pick you up along with the car details. They rob you then it would be pretty easy to send the police his way

Robbed ... Black cab, unles you take a note of the taxi licence or registration you won't be able to trace them. If you didn't know you were being robbed at the time you wouldn't be able to follow it up later

Assaulted ... Uber as above and also you friends can track your progress and notice that the car is stopped in some woods for a long time

Assaulted ... Black cab as above, left with a good kicking you might not get chance to see their licence (Black Cab drivers have recently shown their propensity to violence, just look at the Hailo office)

Abducted/Murdered ... Uber would have a simple way of showing the police exactly where you last were, where you went and the detyails of the guy who picked you up - even your friends might be able to let the police know something is wrong way before they would normally find out.

Abducted/Murdered ... Black cab, would anyone know you had jumped into a cab and which cab it was unless there was cctv in the are and it was a high enough resoultion to make out the plate?

General attitude, unwelcome comments, unwelcome advances ... Uber just rate the driver low, enough low ratings they will get less or no trade

Black Cab ... you have no idea if the driver is any good or is a decent guy as you have no visibility of complaints or any suspensions served.

Safety-wise I would say Uber has Black Cabs beat hands-down.

10
0
Silver badge

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

When reality issues a wake up call, it usually is a bitch. The wake up call here is that reality just changed the rules and kvetching about the existing ones is pointless.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: That is the crappiest argument I've ever seen in El Reg.

Oh yeah?

Well your mother wears army boots!

0
0

Re: Doesn't hide the major problems with Uber, though...

You really haven't looked very hard, have you?

0
0

Wont be using black cabs again

had to take 3 cab journeys this week and thanks to a stuck up colleague it had to be a black cab.

Cue 20 minutes of being told how awful Hailo, Uber etc are and how brilliant black cabbies are, how helpful and pleasant they are (as we were thrown all around the back of the cab thanks to his ducking and diving) in each journey.

the last cabbie just ranted constantly from start to finish in a massively racist fashion about all the pakistani's driving addy lee's, how they have to use sat nav (when he had one as well) - i will never give money to these morons ever again, needless to say my colleague returned in her own cab, whilst i got an Uber, guess who arrived back first and paid less..... yup... me

also reported the cabbie for his racist views, i doubt i will hear anything back about it though as it sounded like his brother on the other end of the phone.

23
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: Wont be using black cabs again

You won't. I've stopped getting black cabs if I can help it now, due to numerous issues getting them from Heathrow. I live a few miles from Heathrow and while most of them are fine about it, a few have got annoyed because they don't want to go there and want a big fare from a gullible tourist into Central London.

One or two got frankly offensive about it.

The last time I got one was a few weeks ago. After a very delayed flight I couldn't be bothered waiting for a minicab, and it was on expenses anyway. Got the epitome of Cockney Wanker, who not only had his meter already running when I got in and argued that it wasn't, but also suggested a tip I should give him at the end.

I've complained a couple of times and the best I've got was something along the lines of "we'll talk to the driver". Waste of time. It's a member's club, albeit with difficult entry requirements, but they look out for each other.

I prefer the Pakistani guys. They usually have interesting conversation and are generally more appreciative of your business than the black cabbies. They also say thanks when you tip them.

Having said that, plenty of black cabbies are perfectly fine (a mate of mine does it and he's OK). They just need some decent competition and I'm all for it. Have tighter entry requirements for the Uber guys and let battle commence.

20
0
M7S
Bronze badge

Re: Wont be using black cabs again

I'm neutral on the Uber thing at this time and also I'm not excusing in any way the experience you had, but sometimes I am required to return children from an event back home unaccompanied (by prior arrangement). Parents and I have agreed that only a black cab can be used. Whilst not all are angels (as the recent Worboys case proves), the odds of a bad 'un are very low and they know they can all be traced if there is a complaint (and you've bothered to take the licence number) and they've something to lose (the means by which many licensed trades are effectively controlled generally for the benefit of society, something worth noting).

Also the hackney cabs have several public service obligations that the Uber cabs do not.

Their vehicles have to be adapted for the disabled.

In the event of a major incident they can be pressed, en masse, into service for patient transport in order to releive the strain on medical resources. This might seem like a small thing to some but if non-urgent patients can be cleared from a hospital, whilst not clogging up the ambulance service's front line and PTS vehicles, it could literally be life and death for some.

You might want to get a copy of "the absract" from the Public Carriage Office. IIRC it lists all the offences applicable to licensed hackney carriages. Mention of this booklet can often bring to heel anyone not playing nicely or by the rules.

10
2

Re: Wont be using black cabs again

I won't ever tolerate someone who's racist but Addison Lee drivers are the worst in the City. Far less courteous than black cabs (coming from a cyclist who had too many run ins with Addison Lee drivers not holding out at side junctions to let cyclists past).

Maybe you got a better price (by a few quid no doubt) but there's no guarentee's. Rather have an experienced black cabbie over these GPS hotshots any day. I'm sure if you'd got stuck in an instant jam, the Uber driver wouldn't have a clue where to go to get round it. Also, there's private firms already out there that do the job you require.

0
1

Re: Wont be using black cabs again

"I live a few miles from Heathrow and while most of them are fine about it, a few have got annoyed because they don't want to go there and want a big fare from a gullible tourist into Central London."

The reason is, or used to be, that a black cab paid for the priviledge of picking up fares at Heathrow. Recognising that a short trip would not return sufficient to pay the fee, there was a free return time (30 min?) when the cab could return to the back of the terminal queue and not the large cab rank to await call forward (and pay another fee). I lived on the cusp and the state of traffic and lights decided if the driver could get back under the bar. Most were philiosophical, they had to accept the fare after all. Some were not and moaned all the way.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.