Transport for London’s decision to stop Uber from operating has received widespread criticism. The vast majority of people do seem to recognise that TFL’s choice was a fundamentally bad one. So far a petition to overturn the ruling has attracted over 600,000 signatures.
Much has been said about the Uber ban so here are the top three reasons why it is a truly terrible decision:
Uber is popular and there are good reasons for that. The app is extremely convenient because it does away with the need to wave like a lunatic at every passing taxi when you need to get around. You can track when your ride will meet you as well as check out the driver before you get into the car. Uber is also good on price, often costing less than a black cab.
In theory, this should be possible with a private taxi company, but many of these businesses are small and rarely employ more than ten drivers. Go to a city centre where Uber doesn’t exist at around two o’clock in the morning. You will see hordes of people milling around waiting for ‘their’ taxi to turn up. Some of these people will have been waiting for over an hour for their cab because the local companies are all too busy. Uber eliminates this problem.
Uber employs lots of people. Unlike the black cabs, Uber drivers do not need to go through a series of expensive ordeals in order to work. Employees can drive their own cars rather than pay top dollar for a black taxi. Uber provides employment for around 40,000 people in London. It would be a mistake to assume that all of these drivers use Uber as their primary income source. However, there are many reasons why somebody might prefer a more flexible approach to work.
Uber is safe.There have been horror stories about people’s experiences with Uber and these should not be ignored. Yet, the law already has the tools to deal with the cases without banning a company from operating. Taxi drivers harassing or praying on vulnerable individuals is terrible, but this tragic development was not invented by Uber. The number of crimes reported by Uber drivers is staggeringly small given the number of drivers the company employs.
If we listen to some of the comments made against Uber. We might be forgiven for thinking that it flouts safety regulations on a whim. Nothing could be further from the truth. Uber has passed every inspection that TFL has carried out.
Since the ruling Uber has apologised and plans to fight the decision in court. It is quite clear that this was a political decision by TFL who is under pressure from the black cab cartel.
Let us hope that the people who oversee the law see more sense than the people running London’s transport.