Thank you for contacting me regarding Uber. As a former licensed London cab driver myself, I share your concern and anger over the way that Uber has been allowed to circumvent the regulations around taxis. I have already written to the Peter Hendy, the TfL Commissioner, to outline my very serious objections regarding the worrying growth in the use by minicab companies of apps like Uber which run a coach and horses through the legal definitions which underpin London’s taxi regulations.
It is clear to me that both TfL and the government need to look at the regulation and enforcement of the taxi and private hire trade in a much more comprehensive fashion than they are currently doing.
I believe that the Uber App is clearly designed to function as a meter and I am entirely opposed to TfL’s refusal to take against the use of Uber by minicabs. The app is a taxi meter which calculates fares based on distance and time taken. This seems to be clearly against the current regulations.
If Boris Johnson and TfL continue to allow Uber to be used in this way then I believe that we could well see the end of the licensed taxi industry in London as we know it, and see instead a completely deregulated taxi and private hire market. This will lead to the loss of all the safety gains for the travelling public provided by London’s licensed taxis – especially since the 1998 London Private Hire Vehicles Act.
I have told TfL that I have been approached by a number of taxi drivers who are extremely concerned and angry about this situation.
I appreciate that the legality of this app is to be tested in the High Court but I do not believe that this justifies Boris Johnson simply shrugging his shoulders and allowing Uber to continue to operate in this way.
London’s licensed taxi drivers are widely regarded as the world’s finest and the black cab is an icon of this city. Uber must be stopped from leading a race to the bottom which can only in the end undermine existing safeguards for the travelling public. The problem we have though is that the current mayor believes that all of this should be left to the will of the free market – a free market that allows Uber to operate in an unregulated grey market, whilst traditional black cab drivers continue to be bound by the strictest vehicle, knowledge and character requirements in the world. Johnson’s views were best summed up in his recent late-night comments to a London cabbie.
I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that London cabbies are allowed to continue their trade and that action is taken against apps like Uber to ensure that they are not allowed to destroy the regulatory system that has been painstakingly developed over decades to provide a safe and reliable taxi and minicab service for Londoners. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of any further assistance.
Member of Parliament for Eltham
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