London’s transport regulator TfL has introduced a set of tough new proposals that would effectively kneecap Uber in London.
The proposals would require the ride-hailing app — and other services like it — to implement mandatory five minute wait times before vehicles can pick up passengers, stop apps from showing what vehicles are nearby, and force drivers to work for just one operator at a time.
Uber, predictably, is furious, and has launched a petition that has gained nearly 100,000 signatures from customers in under 24 hours.
The potential new rules have been proposed by TfL — but the established taxi industry has apparently had a key role in drafting them. In an article published in August (before the proposals were public) in trade publication Taxi, general secretary of taxi union LTDA Steve McNamara writes that “all of the proposed regulatory changes were proposed by the [taxi] trade in our response” to a consultation.
He cites “a five minute period between booking and pick up,” that “operators must not show vehicles available for immediate hire,” and “the fare must be specified at time of booking” as examples of this.
McNamara specifically points to Uber as being adversely affected by these proposals, were they to pass. “This is by no means a fait accompli,” he writes, “and Uber will be utilising its £250,000 per month lobbying and marketing budget to pressurize its bought and paid for journalists and politicians into earning their keep, and doing all it can to block the changes. Uber doesn’t care about public safety; a lax regulatory system suits it.”
He continues with a call for taxi drivers to continue to pressure TfL. “The public doesn’t understand and few will respond to the consultation; so it will be up to us to respond en masse and ensure they are protected. I will be contacting all LTDA members nearer the time with suggestions and details of how to respond.”