London bans Uber; firm can stay while it appeals


There’s loads of cabs in Vegas when i lived there. That did not excuse the amount of money they charge, i remember on time being driven a few blocks only to pay like 30 bucks, i would have called an Uber except they did not have permission to pick up passengers at the airport. Or the one time i was stranded on some random part of town in Denver during bad weather and having the cab company telling me they would not pick me up because i was unable to give them an exact address. Or the time i scheduled a cab pick up for a flight i could not miss and having the driver just not show up and not call to let me know. Yeah fuck cab companies.

By comparison my experiences with rideshares has been wonderful. I would not defend Uber’s business practices at all, but cab companies in my eyes are just as bad.


It’s reasonable to rag on Uber for their labor relations. But, in a lot of cities where the medallions are leased by their owners to freelance drivers, those drivers are no better off than Uber’s. Not even a little bit.


All over the U.S., Uber has successfully used the tactic/adage “Better to apologize later, than to ask for permission first.” They started operating in cities and gained in popularity over traditional taxicabs. Their executives acted shocked when informed of the many regulations they were violating and multiple cities took legal action to shut them down. They kept operating in defiance of the law, were sued for unsafe practices or lack of insurance, and they came out of court with a “slap on the wrist” series of fines.

Their loyal customers cheer them on every step of the way. For their labor practices alone, I refuse to ever use them. However, I’m curious to see the fallout when this company finally goes under.


Meet the new boss, same as the…oh, it gets tedious.

Correct. So why post on something about which you know nothing?

Exactly so. Uber cannot compete on a level playing field because the typical minicab company consists of Mike (or Husain), his SO, and his mates. They aren’t trying to take over the world, they are not losing huge amounts of money in China, they aren’t trying to satisfy VCs, they aren’t earning millions of dollars, they have much lower overheads. Uber isn’t some sort of libertarian share economy wet dream, it’s an abusive would be monopolist that has been caught doing anti-competitive things. It would help if some of the people commenting on TfL were not so totally ignorant of the London transport system that they think it’s a binary black cab/Uber world.


I was amazed that a New York City Taxi badge can set the purchaser back $1,000,000. That’s insane. I guess the purchaser hopes is to sell it on at a profit when your retire, but the interest rates must be horrible.


In the best of all worlds, these pay-to-play badges would be worthless.


Not to mention that some Uber drivers in London used to work for minicab firms and would probably go back to them. After all, the minicabs will get lots more business if Uber disappears from London.


I’ve used that ploy several times in my career, so I don’t view it as a criticism. In most big organizations, there are always a hundred people who can say no, but no one person who can say yes…

If Uber, or any other service, had “asked for permission” first, the mobbed-up, palm-greasing existing taxi operators would have made sure that they had never, ever gotten it. Uber was right to start delivering the service first, because once customers experienced it they would not want to go back to the status quo ante. (Edit - I am speaking of USA cab operators here, not London).

And as I said above, it’s totally appropriate for anyone that wants to carry passengers for hire to meet good safety and insurance standards. But one thing that should never be in the scope of regulations is a restriction on the number of players who can enter the market.


I remember when it was “only” $250000. Of course the badge allows you to subcontract another driver so it can earn 24/7. (A friend was considering one as an investment…he should have gone for it!) But, unlike the Knowledge, it’s an artificial barrier to entry.
The Knowledge is a test of fitness to practice, and on the day GPS fails due to solar flare, EMP weapons, or whatever, the black cabs become a strategic resource. I can in emergency find my way to a number of places in London without satnav, but that’s the result of having lived there for years and travelled on foot and by motorbike. If GPS goes off, public transport and people doing local journeys are OK, but Uber drivers and a number of minicab drivers become clueless.


Now that’s an argument (what happens on EMP day?) with some value. Assuming of course that the EMP does not kill the ignitions of Uber and black cabs alike…

Is there any limit on the number of cab licenses which can be granted, among those who can pass the “Knowledge test”??? If the transport ministry wanted to minimize the effect of a loss of GPS, they should be encouraging more and more drivers to learn the roads.



Not that I am aware of. But it is very difficult; as difficult, in fact, as getting a postgraduate qualification (though candidates can try repeatedly).
A black cab driver who is good earns about the same amount as a low-to-mid level IT person in a bank and probably works harder. In effect, a working class kid with not a lot of formal education but a good memory for streets and buildings can turn it into a worthwhile job.
Accusations of racism have a basis in fact - South London taxi drivers tended to come from the old white areas of Essex, which is like that. North London taxi drivers traditionally had a large Jewish component - it was a step up from the garment industry - but I think more general education must have reduced that a lot.
But my all time favourite taxi driver was a secular Muslim communist taxi driver in Mumbai who, when I asked him to show me round the city, spent three hours giving me a wide ranging overview and then refused to take a rupee more than was indicated on the meter.


Not according to TfL. They did suspend applications in three suburban areas a few years ago, but that was because of oversaturation and if you were really insistent on being able to work in that area you could still apply for an all London license. That suspension has since been lifted.

It has been suggested that there is a limit on the number of taxi drivers in London, which is incorrect. Previously, we suspended applications for suburban (yellow badge) drivers in three of the nine suburban taxi areas in London because we were conducting a review of suburban taxi services for the suburban action plan 2015. This was at the request of the taxi trade itself. During this period, applicants still had the option to apply for any of the other six suburban sectors as well as the All London knowledge. Now the review is complete we are accepting applications for these three sectors again.


The insurance issue is far more important to me than the response of existing taxi operators, though. Uber chose to come into the marketplace and have people use their personal vehicles for commerce. I looked into a food delivery startup about 5 years ago. The single largest barrier was auto insurance, because of lawsuits that came up a decade earlier when kids started using their cars (or their parents’ cars) to deliver pizza and got into accidents. They were not covered for that activity.

In my entire county, I only found one insurance company that would offer that coverage. It was so expensive that it made the entire business unprofitable. Which led me to believe the folks who tried to sell me on the company (because they were already in operation) were going without coverage and hoping that the worst wouldn’t happen. That was just to deliver food, so I cannot imagine the costs with passengers.


Charlie Stross needs to incorporate that into a Laundry Files novel.


…and customers will get to spend more time waiting out on the street at night, and face higher fares as well.


Agreed. I hope will see changes with credit scores and a change in membership among the top 3 credit reporting agencies…


Depends on the honesty of the cabbie. They know the fastest route, but it doesn’t mean that’s the route they’ll take.


To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, …

So noble.


That’s a good point. Cabbies also like to demand cash rather than let you pay with a card.

That points to one thing that Uber and the other ride sharing companies get very right. Let me leave feedback about my ride. In theory, the cab regulators should be very interested in that kind of thing.


Taxis use taxi ranks as pickup areas. Uber uses bicycle lanes. So yeah, taxis have an advantage there but I would prefer Uber to be banned.