back to article 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 …

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  1. garetht t

    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!

    1. Ian 55

      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.

      1. goldcd

        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*

        1. southpacificpom
          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.

          1. big_D 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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              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.

    2. Fred Fallacy

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

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

  2. Harry the Bastard
    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

    1. Mark 65

      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.

      1. Tom 13

        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.

      2. SundogUK

        They are, and do have to be, licensed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

  3. TRT Silver badge

    Uber versus taximeter. Tsk...

    ...that hackneyed old argument again.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. the-it-slayer

      "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.

  5. gv

    London traffic at a standstill

    Any different to a normal day?

  6. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Coat

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

  7. Thomas Whipp

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver 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.

        1. goldcd

          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?

          1. Jonathan Richards 1
            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.

            1. oddie

              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

      2. goldcd

        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.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Argument

      those on low incomes..

      london cabs?

      can you heard yourself?

      1. Thomas Whipp

        Re: Argument

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

    3. Brad Ackerman
      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).

    4. SoaG

      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.

    5. P0l0nium

      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 ??

    6. Tom 13

      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."

  8. I Am Spartacus
    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.

  9. Kristian Walsh

    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.

    1. Graham Dawson

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

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Uffish
        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.

        1. Jamie Jones 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!

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

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

          Oh yeah?

          Well your mother wears army boots!

        4. SundogUK

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

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

      2. J.G.Harston Silver 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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    5. Tom 13

      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.

  10. Oli 1

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        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.

    2. M7S

      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.

    3. the-it-slayer

      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.

  11. Neil B

    I actually agree with them that vehicles and drivers designed to convey the public for money should be licensed and regulated.

    I certainly wouldn't get in some geezer's Passat just because he rocked up to the door and offered me a lift, but that's essentially what users of Uber are doing.

    However, knowing a couple of cabbies as I do, I can confidently say that if they don't get with the program, they are going to be utterly crushed by this kind of technology.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LTDA tweeting

    I trust none of the drivers receiving these were driving at the time??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: LTDA tweeting

      Didn't you see the pictures? They were sitting in protest at the time.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So to try and stop people using uber they give people the perfect opportunity to try uber because no other cab is available for hire? Nice one you twats.

  14. Shades

    Meters

    From the article:

    "The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association argues that the mobile app is basically just a form of taxi meter, which private cars and minicabs aren’t legally allowed to have."
    Is this just a London thing? All the private hire firms where I live (Staffordshire) have integrated meters in the little GPS enabled devices that the drivers can accept jobs and recieve short messages (amongst other things) through. The same firms now use automated telephone lines (which remembers the last few pickup points if you've used them before) or Apps with which you can book a taxi, then see where it is, and it tells you what the car is, its reg and the drivers name (or the same info is sent to your mobile as an SMS if you booked via a call).

    Perhaps London cabbies should try moving with the times instead of bringing things to a standstill?

    1. Colin Brett
      WTF?

      Re: Meters

      "The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association argues that the mobile app is basically just a form of taxi meter, which private cars and minicabs aren’t legally allowed to have."

      This point puzzled me. The private cars and minicabs don't have the meter: the customer who wants the taxi has the meter, in the form of the app on their phone.

      Colin

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Meters

      It is a London thing. London has different taxi legislation to Civilisation, for no other reason than it's London.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would these be the black cabs that charge

    if they have to use their wheelchair ramps (if they carry them) ?

    Or another type ?

  16. Oldfogey
    Childcatcher

    Ticket to Ride

    So what we have always had to do, unless in the City, is ring a random mini-cab company, agree a price, then hope the car turns up and it and the driver are reasonably respectable.

    With Uber, you get on line, say where you are and where you want to go, ask for a price, agree it, and watch on the screen as the cab approaches. The company guarantees the driver and car are insured and vetted, etc, etc.

    And you can log feedback on the site for your ride.

    I see no downside for the customer, only for the old fashioned cab driver

    1. phil dude
      Thumb Up

      Re: Ticket to Ride

      Agreed. Having used one of these services (Lyft) with a friend in San Fran a few weeks ago, it was an eye opener. The app shows the cab, the operator, their position, and you get instant feedback. No cash changes hands. The driver was courteous, clearly looked after the car (I believe required to be <4 years old? ), and this was not their day job. Regular bloke, working when possible on the side.

      As one of the comments above mentioned, I too was ripped off by a black cab from Heathrow to Hounslow. The cabbie thought I was a tourist mark, and was on the M4 heading for Hammersmith (I guess roundabouts confuse foreigners, eh? ) before you could say "pull the other one".

      I have some sympathy for the "well the regulations make for a safer ride", only in London I don't. The bloody MOT is already a check the vehicle is on good working order.

      ( Mentioned here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/212554/taxi-private-hire-licensing-guide.pdf). The one advantage of a black cab is it takes 5 people and can turn around in one go.

      Here in TN, Uber is in Nashville. TN has NO mandatory vehicle inspection, so perhaps it would be a greater risk. However, if the vehicle is only 4 years old, it is probably a lower risk. Uninsured motorists over here are a problem, so their corporate insurance is a necessity I imagine...

      And don't get me started on cab drivers in Poland that will take any group of men directly to the nearest strip club....

      P.

  17. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    Meanwhile the french are enjoying an SNCF strike

    It's that time of the year again. Oh well.

    "RÄUMPANZER VOR!"

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile the french are enjoying an SNCF strike

      And a taxi strike, the drivers with the the official medallions are protesting about Uber in Paris as well. Uber reckons business this evening was 9x normal. How will the licensed drivers cope, it's hard to drive when you've shot yourself in both feet.

  18. MissingSecurity

    Just a note from the states

    I felt Uber was a good benefit to MN. My friends and I started using them (even though they had cost more), because of the cleaner / safer driving. We're likely to get a cab to our favorite pub and than get one back. It didn't take long for the other companies to clean up there act. I'd say with the shift more and more of us look around for best fair/ times since word spreads quickly if a cab company (even if its just a few driver) are shit.

  19. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Booking a taxi via Uber is no different from booking a taxi via telephone, email, SMS, website. In civilisation outside the M25 many taxi firms already allow you to book a taxi via email/sms/web/carrier pidgeon/whatever. The only problem with Uber is it insists it is not a taxi dispatcher (which requires a license) and that its drivers are not private hire taxis (which require a license). Prosecute Uber for being an unlicensed taxi dispatcher, and their drivers for unlicensed private hire.

    Parliament is currently examining a review of UK-wide taxi regulation legislation (http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/areas/taxi-and-private-hire-services.htm). Contact your MP and make your concerns known.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The only problem with Uber is it insists it is not a taxi dispatcher (which requires a license) and that its drivers are not private hire taxis (which require a license)."

      Err, no they aren't. To be an Uber driver in the UK you need to hold commercial insurance for private hire duties and be a licensed private hire driver, Which includes vertting.

      They also have to have a certain type and class of car.

      There is a law in the UK restricting the use, you can't just flout it by saying your drivers are contractors. i.e. in exactly the same way that you can't just ask people to ring your mobile and you'll take them home for a fiver.

      Uber London itself is also licenced and has complied with all the necessary legislation. The only question mark from anyone is whether their app is a meter, TFL who are in charge of the licensing for them say no but it has been referred to the high court. There is no question mark over their licensing status.

  20. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    "Protests aren’t the answer"

    Er, aren't protests one of the basic ways a group can express their unhappiness over a matter to those in power?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Protests aren’t the answer"

      Yes, but it would usually be the last, not the first resort. Going straight to a protest without having first exhausted the other options such as petitions and dialogue is counter-productive, you don't get far by pissing off the very people you are trying to win over to your side.

      Besides there's a difference between a protest which can take various forms and what taxi drivers are doing today which is in my opinion extortion (and deliberate obstruction* of the public highways, a criminal offence.)

      * Cabs are parked at 90 degrees across lanes of traffic ...

    2. Neil B

      Re: "Protests aren’t the answer"

      They're protesting themselves into obsolescence. How much extra business do we reckon Uber did yesterday? How much free publicity? They must be laughing their knackers off.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black cabs cause horrendous jams in central London

    98% of the UK population doesn't notice and isn't inconvenienced in the slightest, and instead spends its time downloading the handy-looking Uber app thingy they've just heard about for use next time they venture into that hell-hole.

  22. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    Missing the point...

    Does anyone here remember the term Gypsy Cab?

    Here's the problem.

    You get in to the car and the car is in an accident, you're SOL. Better get a good lawyer who is willing to work on a contingency basis. Driver's insurance company won't pay out on a claim. Driver is on the hook because he was using personal insurance while driving commercially. Sue Uber? Unless they've changed their insurance policy, they won't pay out until after the driver's insurance pays out. So if the driver's insurance refuses to pay, Uber's insurance won't cover it.

    Which means you have to go to court against the driver and then Uber.

    To me, that's the real issue.

    There's more because you have the issue of redlining.

    1. The Commenter formally known as Matt
      Go

      Re: Missing the point...

      http://driveuberlondon.com/faq

      What are the licensing requirements to drive with Uber in London?

      Uber works with Public Carriage Office (PCO) licensed drivers. At the time of onboarding, you will need to bring with you all up-to-date legally required documents. For yourself this includes:

      a valid driver's license

      driver's license counterpart

      PCO license.

      For your vehicle you will also need to bring:

      a valid MOT

      logbook

      commercial insurance certificate

      PCO license.

      If you are a PCO Operator yourself, just bring your operator's license.

      So yes you need insurance

  23. southpacificpom
    Devil

    Uber

    Are the Germans invading again?

  24. Andrew Jones 2

    I said when this was being talked about - that this is exactly what would happen - the black cab strike has now significantly raised the public awareness of Uber.

    For those spouting out all kinds of crap about unlicensed drivers, problems with insurance and everything else - I'd suggest you actually first look at what is required to be a driver for Uber.

    UberEXEC -

    You Are...

    An experienced professional driver with a private-hire license and commercial insurance.

    Your Vehicle Is...

    An executive-level, new shape E-class or equivalent vehicle that comfortably seats 4 passengers.

    uberX -

    You Are...

    A professional driver with a private-hire license and commercial insurance.

    Your Vehicle Is...

    A mid-size or full-size saloon that comfortably seats 4 passengers.

    and all the other options

    as you can see - you CANNOT sign up to be a driver for Uber in the England (since it appears no cities in Wales or Scotland are listed - I assume the service is not available there) unless you have at minimum - a Private Hire license AND commercial insurance.

  25. Jan 0

    Avoiding the Streisand effect

    What the Black Cab drivers should have* done is to give free rides to anyone that flagged them down. They didn't get any fares during the protest. Free rides could have made them the good guys, but they blew it.

    *Pedants corner. Did you notice how I didn't write "of"? Some of us still write English!

    1. Fred Fallacy

      Re: Avoiding the Streisand effect

      * Pedants' corner?

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Avoiding the Streisand effect

        Oh no, not this one again!

  26. Moosh
    Angel

    Cabbies will keep 99.99% of their customers no matter how this plays out.

    I mean, you'll always have drunks wandering the streets once the trains have stopped.

  27. dan1980

    Exploit loophole; profit.

    I hear so much about how the 'black cab' taxi drivers need to get with the times and realise that this is a new age of technology, etc . . .

    I agree that technology can't be ignored but the problem is the inherent contradiction in embracing smart phone-based booking and metering but not accepting that such metering is metering all the same.

    If you are going to embrace technology then you have to accept that a smart phone app must count as an installed meter. That is the fundamental problem here - TfL should man-up and accept that the same technological advances that make Uber possible also justify a broadening of the definition of what constitutes an installed meter for the purpose of falling under taxi regulations.

    I am not saying Uber is a bad idea, just that the playing field must be level. If the regulations insist that to have an installed meter, the taxi and driver must meet X, Y and Z requirements then Uber drivers must meet those requirements.

    If that is unacceptable from a competition standpoint then you must alter the regulations but, whatever those regulations are, they must apply equally to anyone with a meter, regardless of if it is a 'normal' meter or a smart phone.

    Whatever definition allows smartphones to be exempt should be widened to represent the PURPOSE of the regulation. A meter is simply any device used to calculate a fare based on a combination of trip time and distance traveled.

    The short version: it is TfL that needs to embrace technology and update their definitions to include smart phone apps as meters.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Exploit loophole; profit.

      "I am not saying Uber is a bad idea, just that the playing field must be level."

      Then the London-specific legislation that created the 'closed shop' Black Cab sector should be deleted. The London Black Cab regulations tip the playing field heavily in the Black Cabs' favour, not Uber's.

      Although The Knowledge requires drivers to learn every single road and point of interest it covers, that coverage is actually only a 6-mile radius around Charing Cross (technically, a statue at the southern end of Trafalgar Square – the point from which London's distances are measured).

      Last time I checked, London is rather more than 12 miles across.

      The Knowledge test therefore doesn't cover most London's suburbia in any great detail. It only requires knowledge of the major trunk roads, for example. Nor are points of interest covers much outside that central core.

      This explains the tourist-centric approach of so many Black Cab drivers: their much-vaunted knowledge only makes them useful to people visiting the centre of London. If you want a Black Cab to take you from Heathrow to a south London suburb, their "Knowledge" will be of negligible benefit.

      1. dan1980
        Meh

        Re: Exploit loophole; profit.

        @Sean

        Absolutely.

        My suggestion would also involve allowing other operators to pickup 'hails', which is currently the purveiw of Black Cabs.

        What I am saying is nothing more than if you want competition, there must be a level playing field. Differentiation should not be enforced by regulations or enabled by loopholes.

        I am not a Londoner but I have spent long enough living there to know exactly what you are saying. I apprecate the standard of the Black Cabs but always felt that a lack of competition did nothing to benefit the average Londoner.

        BUT, competition MUST be on equal terms. Either Uber services are to be considered taxis or not. If they are taxis, then they must follow taxi regulations. If they are not taxis then they cannot use metering - in any guise. That's it.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: just that the playing field must be level.

      Fine. Level the playing field. But do it the right way:

      eliminate the requirement for black cabs to have a taximeter if they are using an Uber-like app to book their fares.

      1. dan1980

        Re: just that the playing field must be level.

        @Tom 13

        It's simple - if you have a meter, you must adhere to one set of regulations and if you do not have a meter, you must adhere to a different (though partially-overlapping) set.

        My main point was just that phone apps should be considered to be meters because for all intents and purposes, that's what they are. Here is the relevant part of the Act:

        Prohibition of taximeters.

        (1)No vehicle to which a London PHV licence relates shall be equipped with a taximeter.

        (2)If such a vehicle is equipped with a taximeter, the owner of that vehicle is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

        (3)In this section “taximeter” means a device for calculating the fare to be charged in respect of any journey by reference to the distance travelled or time elapsed since the start of the journey (or a combination of both).

        The wiggle-room is presumably around the word 'equipped' and, perhaps, the phrase 'device for'.

        The problem is that the legislation was made before the advent of smart phone apps and personal GPS so the idea of a taxi meter on a telephone was not specifically in the minds of the authors of the Act. Nevertheless, it is my view that sub-section 3 covers it and the reasoning from TfL seems to support that.

        After all, they are not claiming that a smart phone is not a meter but that it is not installed in the car.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: just that the playing field must be level.

          Not just that but where is the fare calculated?

          "(3)In this section “taximeter” means a device for calculating the fare to be charged in respect of any journey by reference to the distance travelled or time elapsed since the start of the journey (or a combination of both)."

          If the fare is calculated away from the vehicle (i.e. on the servers of Uber Europe HQ in the Netherlands) which I think may be the case then the device is just recording time and distance and the server is what calculates the fare which is definitely not equipped in the car.

          Any argument against this would also state that a driver may not have a watch and an odometer in the car as these can be used to calculate a fare (especially if they had a fare chart on paper in the glove box or rang their cab office to ask the price).

  28. stu 4

    unions - when were they last used for good?

    Haha. you've gotta laugh.

    What on EARTH did they think they were doing ? How on EARTH did they think this was not going to simply lead to:

    1. inside london: backlash against black cabs, increased uber visibility (I for one have just downloaded it, and didn't realise they are licenced minicab drivers, etc)

    2. outside london - massive/uber(sic) uber downloads commence and great awareness.

    3. educated awareness of the public at the weirdness of how london has taxi laws unlike any other place in the UK - and opening the doors, perhaps, to them being standardised at last (even the way the black cab unions talks about 'only they have meters' - it's like they don't realise there is a world outside of london.

    way to shoot yerself in the foot.

    But also, another great demonstration of the power of a union used to protect it's own interests rather than for what they were originally intended.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: way to shoot yerself in the foot.

      And they did it 'Merkin style too! One barrel per foot, double-ought buckshot.

  29. Hellcat
    Joke

    "Do not give up, keep coming , we r winning, if diverted return by any route however circuitous ! United we stand! RT"

    Well they would be the experts in circuitous routes!

  30. astrax

    It's not so much the tech...

    Innovations in technology must be embraced if we are ever to move forward. There's not much to counter that argument. I feel the majority of black cab drivers are pissed off because what was essentially a qualified job (by legislation) has become open to practically anyone. If two groups of people are doing the exact same job in the exact same place, how is it remotely fair that one group has to do an equivalent of a degree and be subject to more rigorous regulation than the other?

    If the consumer is to benefit in the long run, competition should be strong but also fair. In this case, it is certainly not the latter. This is why Addison Lee is also standing shoulder to shoulder with the LTDA, who are usually (far) more opponent then compartriot.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good

    I hope these black cabs either clean-up their act or go under.

    They are frankly a nuisance and I for one would not miss them.

    I want to travel from A to B in comfort, I do not want to be slung about the cab or have to worry they are going to take out pedestrians or bikes as they duck and dive and frankly take the "micheal" when it comes to other road users...

    As for Addiscum Lee, don't get me started!

    This sort of action just confirms that there are far too many idiots driving cabs.

    .

  32. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Sympathy?

    Yep, they've generated just as sympathy much as the tube drivers who are already paid more than most people for sitting in their cabin, pushing buttons and occasionally ranting at the paying passengers. The same tube drivers who decided that on top of their ordinary and extraordinary overtime they would also need further extra money during the olympics because, err, honestly: the excuse was so wafer thin I can't even recall it now.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Sympathy?

      "the excuse was so wafer thin I can't even recall it now."

      It might have been something about having to wear clean uniforms to give a good impression, or smiling..who knows?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zone 4 anyone?

    I live in zone 4 - 10 miles to the centre for those outsider of London.

    The chances of finding a black cab willing to take me home after a night out? Slim to none, unless he happens to feel like making this his last job and his drive home from where I live isn't too far, or at least in the right direction.

    Uber is far more likely to get my business, though I have that, Hailo and Addison Lee apps installed - I'm also likely to check price and arrival time on each before I commit to the order.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The solution for Uber is simple

    Addison Lee doesn't have the same problem.

    It quotes the whole price for a job upfront - based on distance from pick up to drop off and current traffic times (I wouldn't be surprised if it asks google maps for the answer)

    There is no GPS metering, no physical metering. The only extras are if you add new pick up or drop off points or keep them waiting.

    Uber could quite easily change to the same model - as long as the drivers were willing to take the fares. I suspect it would lead to slightly increased fares for customers, but probably not by much.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Technology changes. Jobs change.

    Did nobody really see this coming? mobile technology has been changing peoples habits for years now.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      That's why we need more regulation.

      Do you realise that in London today people who are not members of the British Computer Society are allowed to use computers. On the street. In broad daylight. Where it might frighten the horses.

  36. Juan Inamillion

    Sadly London is unique

    And historically speaking, held to ransom by black cabs. I've lived here for nearly 40 years and I've learned to avoid using black cabs whenever possible. Yes, there are a lot of nice cab drivers out there, but I cannot stand the back-breaking discomfort of those older cabs, plus getting thrown around, not being able to see through the misted up windows...

    That's even before we talk about the cost. For me the killer blow was the rise in fares after 20.00, Boris's Big Idea to get more cabs out and about in the evening. Can someone explain the logic?

    Quite honestly I've never had a problem with a mini cab driver, with or without satnav. Strange I note some down votes on Addison Lee, personally never once had a problem. Clean, recent model cars or MPV's, clean well-dressed and pleasant drivers. GLH is another excellent London-wide company.

    As several others here have said, the cabbies have seriously shot themselves in both feet by this action, but the real problem is that it's London's problem and the law needs to be changed. There's plenty of room for all these cabs and the black cabs would still have the advantage of kerbside hailing.

    I signed up to Zipcar (car club) about 2 years ago. Totally brilliant, I've rented several. On one occasion I rented a car to pick someone up from Kings Cross to bring back to Chelsea. 1.5 hours - it cost me £9.00. No contest as far as I'm concerned!! Another time delivering 3 computers round west london, took 3 hours - £18.00. No congestion charge, fuel included.

  37. PassingStrange

    Let's not conflate issues here

    There are two linked but distinct issues here.

    One is whether Uber are breaching the relevant law, the other is whether the law ought to change.

    And, for my money, on the first at least, things are quite clear - these apps are most definitely in breach of the intent (at least, and maybe even the letter) of the law as it stands. They're a classic instance of something coming along that the law, possibly, doesn't explicitly forbid, only because the technology in question simply wasn't envisaged when the law was framed. If I were a London black cabbie, I'd be up in arms as well, looking to get the spirit of the law enforced.

    The second issue is a perfectly valid one to discuss, and not one I have any great opinion on. But right now, the law is what it is, and its intent is perfectly clear. If that's to change, that should be through proper legal process - not from simple force majeure on the part of interlopers exploiting legal technicalities.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    permissions

    Just went to install Uber from the Play Store. Uber wants access to Identity, Contacts/Calendar, Location, Phone, Photos, Camera/Microphone, Device ID and call information.

    'Location' I can understand. The rest I can't. Did not install.

  39. briesmith

    Uber - for a little while?

    Black cabs out competed by Uber; Uber out competed by - oh, I don't know, no more than a million apps?

    Black cabs are taking a stop the world position which will do for them but if Uber think they've got it all their own way, just give it a few months.

    The idea that a hopelessly Americanised service can sustain against home market tweaked opponents can't stand. Uber is an aggressively, off puttingly, frankly unlikeably US product and I expect Addison Lee and others are already planning its demise.

    It will be Pyrrhic but the black cabs will have their revenge on Uber.

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