Yesterday the news came out that Uber are to lose their private hire licence in London. The decision has apparently come as a surprise to some, although the mere fact that Uber’s most recent extension was granted for a period of a mere four months, as opposed to five years should have provided a clue that the writing was on the wall for them. This piece is my official response to that decision. Although I will mainly be doing q and a stuff later in this post I am going to finish this section by answering one question – how many Uber rides have you taken? That would be a big fat zero.
Here is an image of the decision and its reasons courtesy of Transport for London (note to various filthy bigots who have asumed otherwise its was TFL who made the decision, not Sadiq Khan):
Note that this document is succinct and extremely clear about just why Uber have los their right to operate in London. Here is London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s official response to the decision:
ANSWERS TO A FEW OF THE QUESTIONS RAISED BY OPPONENTS OF THE DECISION
What about the 40,000 low-paid workers losing their jobs? Uber go to great lengths, including fighting (and in at least one case losing) court cases to not accept their drivers as employees because that would mean giving them certain rights that as (officially) self-employed people they do not have. Some of these Uber drivers may experience hardship as a result of this decision, but in the long haul they will probably be better off. Also there is nothing to stop these people setting up a scheme of their own to run private hire vehicles – find out what TFL require of them to give them a licence and go for it.
What are alternatives to Uber? There is an app specially for London black taxis called gett. Also the only times when there is not public transport available in London are between about 1AM and 4AM – and even in those hours some buses run.
What about people who cannot afford to pay extra? First up, if you use gett you get a flat rate and no sudden price hikes due to extra demand as Uber do, so it probably works out fairly similar in cost. Second, look back at my answer to the question about alternatives to Uber to remind yourself of when public transport is not available – if you can afford to be out and about in London at those sort of times you are not that poor (btw, although this is not strictly relevant I am a part time minimum wage worker, so I know a thing or two about actually being poor).
GOOD LINKS ABOUT THIS DECISION
First up, this Guardian article gives a good overview of the decision and the reasons for it. Another good general article is this one on inews. One final article providing general coverage is this from RT.
Still from yesterday we have excellent pieces from Zelo Street “Uber Licence NOT Renewed” and from Evolve Politics “Uber being stripped of their London licence signals the first nail in the coffin for the gig economy” both of which explain the wider implications of this decision.
Today has seen more on this decision, led by the Mirror with “Uber ban by TfL raises questions about future in other cities – and is a warning to the gig economy“, Zelo Street have returned to the attack with “Uber – The Pundits Bleat” and finally, courtesy of Huffpost comes “I’m An Uber Driver And Agree With TfL – Uber Must Play By The Rules Or Get Out Of London“. This last also helps to fix the blame for Uber losing their London licence actually lies – squarely with Uber, who have had four months on notice in which to put their house in order and clean up their act, and have signally failed to do so, arrogantly believing that they are above such things as rules and laws.
TFL have made absolutely the right decision, the only decision that in the circumstances, given Uber’s continued failure to even attempt to co-operate they could have made. Uber are a billion-dollar business, but the apparently insatiablke and limitless greed of the people who run it has finally caught up with them. If Uber want to regain their London licence there is a simple solution: do what TFL require of them to make that happen.