Minicabs and taxis unite: London deserves better than Uber

The company is no entrepreneurial force for competition. They're backed by corporate titans like Goldman Sachs, and incur no tax liabilities in the UK

Share

Today, London’s taxis are taking to the streets to protest against Transport for London's decision to licence app-based operator Uber. The minicab industry stands behind the taxis, whose action – at cost to their own earnings – will hopefully serve to highlight the very real safety and competition issues at stake.

Uber suggests that they are bringing competition to an industry that hasn’t evolved in years. However, London’s taxi and private hire market has been for many years one of the most vibrant and competitive in the world. This is a direct result of the current regulatory regime, which created a vibrant and safe market for our sector’s customers. Uber’s operating model directly undermines the existing regulatory regime and with it, fair competition and the safety of customers.   

Private hire vehicle (PHV) Licensing delivered a two-tier system that offers Londoners the choice of 25,000 Taxis or some 60,000 licensed PHVs, which can be booked via over 3,000 Licensed Operators in London. That two-tier system splits taxi drivers and PHV drivers. Taxi drivers have the skill-set to pick-you up and take you anywhere in London without the need to reference an atlas; they charge via a ‘metered’ tariff set by TfL. By contrast, PHV drivers will often need to pre-plan the journey with the use of an atlas and or other navigational aids; their services are available usually for a lower fare that can be determined before travelling. As Taxis have the ‘knowledge’, the right to be ‘flagged down’ and ‘meter’ journeys are reserved to them under the present regulatory system. 

The two-tier rules are in place for both safety and the financial protection of the travelling public. The PHV market is not arguing that they should never change – our members have been at the forefront of technological innovation in London, and it is right and necessary that the regulations adapt to meet the conditions of the modern world. However, while the rules are as they are, all market participants should adhere to them. We therefore strongly object to the development of an effective third-tier of ‘app only’ based providers arrogantly coming into the London marketplace, specifically disrupting it for their own commercial reasons that ignore the laws that have worked well in the Taxi industry for hundreds of years and in the PHV industry for over a decade, since PHVs became licensed in the capital.

App-based operators like Uber increase their profit margins by opting out of the regulatory compliance of the wider market. Additionally, in Uber’s case, it’s separation from the regulatory regime incurs no tax liabilities in the UK. The company is engaging with customers through an unlicensed (in the UK) Dutch entity called ‘Uber BV’, to whom fares are directly paid – avoiding any scrutiny by HMRC.

Uber and companies like it certainly have a role to play in the continued evolution of the industry, but to say that the company is an entrepreneurial force for competition is to ignore the facts of the case. Uber is backed by corporate titans like Google and Goldman Sachs.

As we’ve seen all too often these past few years, it is arrogantly exempting itself from Britain’s rules to exploit Londoners; it is time TfL and the Government called it in to account.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Whitehall Editor: The spurious Tory endorsement that misfired

Oliver Wright
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence