Uber: Cab plan against public interest

Uber says TfL cab proposals 'against public interest'

  • 2 October 2015
  • From the section Business

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Taxi hiring app Uber said London's transport authority is proposing rules that are "against the public interest".

Transport for London (TfL) announced a public consultation process to decide how the city's private hire trade should be regulated.

Proposals include improving the driving and English language skills of drivers and stricter insurance requirements.

But Uber said that the proposals would raise prices and add to congestion in London.

"It's meant to be a public consultation but it clearly hasn't got the public's interests at heart," said Gareth Mead, Uber Europe's spokesperson on the Today programme.

Longer wait?

An online petition called called Support Uber London has received more than 123,000 signatures, stating that the proposals would lead to a five minute waiting time before a customer can begin their Uber journey.

"There will be a mandatory five minute wait time, even if a car is available just around the corner. You won't even be able to see the nearest cars when you open the app", the petition claimed.

Mr Mead said of the proposed five-minute wait for trip confirmation: "As the night's draw in, it's starting to get colder and darker. I'm not quite sure how that [proposal] benefits anybody."

Earlier this week Garrett Emmerson, a senior executive at TfL, said in a statement: "In recent years the private hire industry has grown exponentially and technology has also developed rapidly. The consultation sets out a number of ways that standards across the industry could be raised.

"No final decisions have been made and we're keen to hear a range of views from the trade and from Londoners too."

Background checks

The Californian technology company has faced resistance from taxi drivers around the world, who argue that Uber drivers escape regulation.

But Mr Mead said Uber drivers are subject to the same measures which govern the private hire industry, including background checks and licensing requirements.

Responding to criticism that Uber cannot ensure that its drivers are taking rest breaks, Mr Mead said: "One of the advantages of a digital technology company is that you can see, to the minute, what they [drivers] are doing, and we tell them when they need to take a break."

Mr Mead said that since Uber launched in London a year ago, it had gained 1 million users in the capital.

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