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

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

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Naturism criminalised: Why not being able to bare all is a bummer

Simon Usborne
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species  

Save the tiger: Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried