On Friday 22May, an open letter to Boris Johnson from Addison Lee’s chief executive Liam Griffin appeared in the Financial Times. It describes TfL’s response to the rise of Uber and similar operators as “deplorable”.
TfL’s hesitancy “to apply the same regulatory standards for private hire operators to app-based firms has enabled these e-hailing services to distort public perception of the wider sector”, Mr Griffin said in his letter.
He welcomed Boris’s review of private hire regulations but said the proposal to cap numbers is “an unworkable and outdated solution; a panic measure being brought forward in the attempt to get TfL off the naughty step”.
Mr Johnson has said that the increase in private hire vehicles — numbers have risen by a fifth in the past year to 78,000 — has led to greater congestion in London, more air pollution and more illegally parked cars. His staff insisted the mayor was not on a witch hunt against Uber.
But Mr Griffin argued that the cause of the problem was not the existence of operators such as Uber but TfL’s failure to enforce regulations properly by “turning a blind eye to the new e-hailing operators’ behaviour”.
Mr Griffin therefore calls for an “overhaul of the regulatory system to accommodate and address the needs and issues of the modern transport environment”.
Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: “We have not treated, and do not treat, Uber any differently to any other London operator and we are satisfied that Uber complies with private hire licensing requirements.
“Where the requirements are met, we are legally obliged to grant an operator’s licence.”
Why was the requirement for a land line to take pre-bookings dropped in Uber’s case? (It’s actually on the aplication form. Was it because uber don’t do pre booked jobs….they a replying for immediate hire! Isn’t that unlawful Leon?
Below is an Email train sent to us by Steve Garelick, Branch Secretary Professional Drivers G56:
It would appear to us that not only were Uber Licensed even though they did not fully comply with PH regulations, TfL are still bending over backwards, turning a blind eye to protect them.
From: Steve Garelick @ GMB Drivers
Subject: Uber – Suspension of Licence
As you will be aware I tested Ubers system to confirm if a driver could drive uninsured or with false documents without immediate detection.
This has been proven and I again tested the system at the weekend to prove no substantive change has taken place.
Additionally one of TfLs Prerequisites is a book of complaints is supposed to be kept with appropriate resolutions.
I am doubtful that considering Uber have removed and restarted their twitter feeds that a full list of complaints is not in place.
Further to I understand that the UGC have kept a copy of the old Twitter feed of complaints which are at over 8000 this is a staggering amount even for a company of so many accomplished journey’s.
It would be hard to confirm this without actual data from twitter users which makes me question why the feeds with original complaints has been removed.
The fact that no inspection in person of validity of documents is a concern.
A further aspect of compliance is consistent complaints of rider accounts being used by other individuals.
This would point towards hacking or sales of client data.
Additionally the fraudulent transactions breach PCI DSS rules. Understandably data protection is a specific aspect of licence applications as well as financial probity.
On this basis I believe that Uber’s licence is not fit for purpose.
I might add that when initial licensing had taken place I questioned John Mason nearly 2 ½ Years ago and he advised me in a meeting at TfL that he licensed the company personally and all was in order.
This clearly was not the case.
I understand that if Uber’s licence is revoked they will switch tack to a ride share scenario not only are the DBS issues but this will question the ethicacy of this company further.
Notwithstanding my evidence and concerns I believe it is time to find a meaningful solution.
I am also concerned that not only are devices being exchanged between drivers (Something I foresaw and mentioned previously.) but there is clearly a avoidance of tax as I understand you may nominate overseas accounts. This may also be leading to benefit abuse.
Stealing benefits from those who really need them is not only unacceptable but immoral.
GMB would now formally request a suspension of Uber London’s licence until solutions if any can be found.
Branch Secretary Professional Drivers G56
From: Hayward Siwan
Subject: RE: Uber – Suspension of Licence
Thank you for this and I apologise for the delay in responding. We have looked into each aspect of your allegations.
We recently undertook a compliance inspection at Uber London Ltd and we are satisfied with the insurance in place for all their active drivers. We also reviewed their complaints system.
We are looking further into the hacking allegations and will keep you updated when we have reached a conclusion.
All the best Siwan
Subject: Your response to my request for suspension – Uber
I was staggered to see the response I received on Friday.
It seems that despite my evidence to the contrary proving indefatigably that a driver could work without insurance this seems to have been dismissed as a misnomer.
Furthermore I am wondering what happens to the previous documents that are on Ubers system because when I uploaded documents in the first instance my insurance was still in date rather than add this back to their system I was requested to despite a request to upload a pre-existing document they should have still had.
This took place prior to my testing the system for alternative upload options.
Does this mean that documents are deleted from their database as a matter of course despite specific rules to the contrary?
Likewise I am doubtful that The high level of daily complaints that can be seen on twitter alone are catalogued as per TFL instructions and that all are showing within Ubers complaints book.
Judging by the deleted tweets we conclude this is being obfuscated to protect Uber from bad publicity.
You have not responded to our request on how you wish to handle the breach of data protection based on the 200 Driver names received in error from Uber.
This was sent some weeks ago.
I have been able to furnish yourselves with multiple instances where I was able to log on to the Uber platform and be allowed to drive with inappropriate documents such as restaurant menus and GMB application forms.
Despite recent changes to the document system it is still possible to upload a fake insurance document without detection.
Just because changes may satisfy you now this does not absolve this company.
This would be like saying because a mugger did not mug anyone recently that they were not guilty.
To ignore this and choose to rely on your own data is inexcusable.
I have now provided clear proof that Uber accounts are available and that data protection as well as card protection are not in place.
A response from yourself asked for me to contact the Police.
I can advise that unless TFL make a test purchase under secure conditions no case can take place as I am not prepared to buy illegally obtained data to prove illegality.
It seems to me the onus that you have set down to me on more than one occasion is not only unreasonable but unacceptable as you are supposed to be upholding the law.
The general view of those involved in both Private Hire and Taxi in London is that there is a level of protection granted to Uber that does not exist to others.
Unless you can publicly dispel these views the presumption will continue.
Please explain why my evidence has been ignored.
Additionally can you now confirm NO Licensed operator requires a telephone number after their inspection for Public contact as both Uber and Hailo have none in place.
As soon as you can confirm this we will act to advise the trade promptly.
I would also like to understand why the data protection issue has been dismissed.
The clear level of complaints on Twitter alone beyond 8000 being what they are within the complaints book with appropriate action and client addresses and resolutions.
How with consistent overcharging, charging for others journeys, journeys not booked and proof that drivers are not taking correct routes that TFL finds no wrongdoing is beyond me?
The case for financial probity is now proven but ignored by TFL.
Understandably I will now repeat my request to revoke this companies licence.
Finally despite an article that went in to the Evening Standard in my name missing a portion of the interview with the reporter you wrote in somewhat terse terms which asked for an apology and questioned why I had not alerted yourselves to matters when had indeed emailed yourselves and others.
I am still awaiting an apology for the fact I had indeed emailed and you had chosen to ignore me.
It will come as no surprise that my being elected to my position was based partly to preserve safety for PHV and Taxi users and of course for my not unsubstantial membership but also to help with my Professional experience to improve the quality of life for those who work in our trade .
To continue to treat myself and my membership in this fashion is not only disappointing it is deplorable.
It is my belief that I have treated TFL staff with the upmost courtesy over the recent years and what I am seeing in return is disappointing.
Indeed your TFL council has exhibited a similar propensity for discourtesy as to not respond even with an acknowledgment to my recent reply to him despite the clarity of my response.
Understandably I am more than petered.
Branch Secretary Professional Drivers G56
Read Steve Garelick’s emails to John Mason in full, concerning the licensing of Uber in 2012 >Click Here <