Uber has begun the fightback against a set of new tough new rules for taxis and “private hire vehicles” proposed by London’s transport authority, Transport for London (TfL).
On Tuesday evening, the news broke that TfL is planning a public consultation on a series of proposals that would hurt Uber’s business model (along with other ride-hailing apps). This includes instituting a mandatory five minute wait time before a vehicle can arrive, a ban on showing animated cars in an app, and only letting drivers work for one company at a time.
In response, Uber emailed its London customers on Tuesday night, asking them to “let TfL know that riders come first.” The email argues that the proposed rules “make no sense,” and is calling for its customers to sign a petition supporting Uber.
“I am concerned that some of these proposals will make it harder for me to get a convenient and affordable ride at the tap of a button, something that I – like millions of Londoners – have come to rely on,” the petition reads. “Technology that makes it safer and easier to travel around the city should be encouraged not restricted.”
The petition is gathering signatures at a rapid pace. Just over 12 hours after it was first emailed out, it has more than 65,000 signatures. Hundreds more are being added every few minutes.
This is the classic Uber playbook. The company has frequently run into regulatory trouble as it expands globally, and when it does, it typically attempts to mobilise its local customer base to lobby the authorities on its behalf. In Brussels earlier this month, a court banned its UberPop service, and it responded with a petition very similar to the London one. (It currently has just under 25,000 signatures.)
Elsewhere in Europe, two Uber executives are going on trial in Paris today, The Wall Street Journal reports, because its drivers did not have professional licenses — a requirement of a new taxi law in the country.
Here’s the TfL document that outlines the potential new rules for “private hire vehicles”:
Here’s the full text of the Uber petition London customers are being asked to sign:
Dear Transport for London,
I’ve recently heard of the proposed regulations that TfL is looking at for private hire in London.
I am concerned that some of these proposals will make it harder for me to get a convenient and affordable ride at the tap of a button, something that I – like millions of Londoners – have come to rely on. Technology that makes it safer and easier to travel around the city should be encouraged not restricted.
Moreover, the proposed regulations restrict the flexibility of drivers to drive for more than one company. I have concerns about the effect this will have on a service that tens of thousands of drivers rely on to help earn a decent living. Uber is attracting a lot of drivers, because it offers a service that no one else does.
As one of the millions of Londoners who use Uber, I want to have my voice heard.
[Your first name] [Your last name]
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