The fate of the popular car-booking app hangs in the balance as TfL asks the High Court to decide if it is operating illegally in the capital.
Uber drivers use smart phones with GPS technology to measure the time and distance of a journey and to receive information about fares. This is allowed under the current law on ‘taximeters’.
Taximeters are the little box above drivers’ rear-view mirror showing the minimum fare and monitoring a fare as it rises through a journey.
They can only be used in London by licensed taxis, such as black cab drivers who have passed ‘The Knowledge’ and other tests.
TfL had previously decided that despite measuring a journey and charging a fare in a similar way to taximeters, the Uber app is not a taximeter – so Uber drivers don’t have to follow the same stringent set of rules as black cab drivers.
However, after protests from cab drivers who feel this difference is unfair, TfL has turned to the High Court to make a decision on whether the app does or doesn’t qualify as a taximeter.
If the ruling goes against Uber, the app will have to change the way it operates in order to comply with London’s regulatory framework – which could mean the end of Uber as we know it in London.
TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport. Leon Daniels, said: “As in many other areas of transport and retail services, apps can offer passengers the potential of better and more convenient services, but their use must be legal and on the issue of taximeters the law is unclear. A binding High Court declaration will bring clarity on this issue for all parties.”
TfL anticipates that the hearing will be held this summer.