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London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber 417

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-in-the-car dept.
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes in with news about a planned protest by London black-cab drivers against Uber. "London black-cab drivers are planning to cause gridlock in the city to protest against car service Uber. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association complains that Uber's drivers are using a smartphone app to calculate fares despite it being illegal for private vehicles to be fitted with taximeters. Transport for London has declined to intervene, because it disagrees that there has been a breach of the law. LTDA now plans to force the issue by holding the action in early June. 'Transport for London not enforcing the Private Hire Vehicles Act is dangerous for Londoners,' Steve McNamara, LTDA's general secretary, told the BBC. 'I anticipate that the demonstration against TfL's handling of Uber will attract many many thousands of cabs and cause severe chaos, congestion and confusion across the metropolis.'"
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London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber

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  • Awesome!!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:28AM (#46956335)

    Does that mean the entire LBC can be defined as a terror organization and placed in whatever Britain's equivalent of Guantanamo Bay is?

    This could be a doubly pointed demonstration: Uber becomes the defacto 'taxi' service of London, and the government shows exactly what will happen if anybody things to provoke demonstrations which might infringe upon the steady operation of infrastructure :)

    • Re:Awesome!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ash Vince (602485) * on Friday May 09, 2014 @07:28AM (#46957643) Journal

      Does that mean the entire LBC can be defined as a terror organization and placed in whatever Britain's equivalent of Guantanamo Bay is?

      This could be a doubly pointed demonstration: Uber becomes the defacto 'taxi' service of London, and the government shows exactly what will happen if anybody things to provoke demonstrations which might infringe upon the steady operation of infrastructure :)

      The problem with the uber drivers though is that they may have no clue where they are going. These cabbies doing the protesting are Londons black cab drivers, that means they have passed "The Knowledge" know london pretty intimately:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]
      http://www.theknowledgetaxi.co... [theknowledgetaxi.co.uk]

      This does mean I entirely agree with their protest, but comparing them to any other taxi drivers elsewhere is not a great comparison because no other Taxis in the world are expected to pass such a ridiculously difficult exam first.

      You might say this is pointless now that Sat-Navs are so ubiquitous, but I would still say it is useful to be able to ask for a destination by something like "that pub off chancery lane with the yellow sign" and he instantly names it and drives you there. It is also useful if you get the road name you are going to slightly wrong and can't find it with Google maps, just jump in cab. I have actually done this one night when I had been drinking and the cabbie had a right laugh about taking me somewhere that was only two minutes away, but I had already spent 20 minutes cluelessly walking around so was more than happy to pay him the minimum fare.

      Most of the time London Black Cabs are pretty awesome, if a little expensive.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        Not to mention the obscenely large cabin, the ridiculously small turning circle, and the strangely-powerful engine which makes for some rather interesting overtaking and launching from a red light. They're absolutely genius, and offer a service far beyond their closest competitors the world over.
      • The problem with the uber drivers though is that they may have no clue where they are going.

        So what? Uber isn't trying to ban black cabs, they'd still exist - and still have "The Knowledge" - and thus if they're so much better than Uber, people would choose to use them. I.e. if you wanted your taxi driver to go to "that pub off chancery lane with the yellow sign", you'd still be able to hire a black cab and pay a premium for "The Knowledge". But if you already know where you're going, or it's someplace ob

  • Buggy whips (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:30AM (#46956343)
    These are the sellers of horse feed trying to fight cars not eating oats. Quite simply the day unoccupied driverless cars become a reality this entire job description will be struck from the registry. Driver of car will be right beside shoveler of coal.

    We might not see this for a number of years, but what will make me laugh out loud will be when on the eve of driverless cars these same cabbies will inform us that, "People will feel safer and prefer a human cabbie."

    As for Uber, the key of any new regulations should not be to protect cabbies, but to protect customers. I suspect that some dark spots with Uber will show up and thus need solving. But one of those dark spots is not the providing of much needed competition in our city's streets.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mx+b (2078162)
      I came here to say essentially this -- I do not really see the big deal, even if it is true that people are using fare meter phone apps. So what? As long as both people are happy with the transaction, I don't see the problem. I think there are many times when government and regulations have their place, but this one seems like one that protects certain jobs at the expense of new ones.
      • Re:Buggy whips (Score:4, Insightful)

        by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Friday May 09, 2014 @01:59AM (#46956661)
        The key is that if a cabbie is naughty then he can have his license pulled. At this point it seems that Uber will effectively do the same thing. But if you have been with Ebay a long time they are letting more and more big sellers get really sleazy with all kinds of little things. Maybe Uber will do this or maybe they won't.

        This is called regulatory capture when it is the government but as Ebay shows it can happen in the private sector as well. The key difference is that(in theory) we can vote on the politicians who make the rules for cabbies.
        • Re:Buggy whips (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2014 @04:22AM (#46957155)

          The main difference is that if an ebay seller screws up your order of pogs , nobody dies. If you a going to be carrying passengers, you'd better have a good driving record, a chauffeur's license and a vehicle that receives regular mandated safety inspection.

          And no, you can't trust the free market to self regulate. We've had airlines literally delay the installation of fixes to critical safety flaws because downing the jet to make the repairs cost too much time/money and hundreds have died as a result. If left entirely to the free market, the airlines would cut fleet maintenance to the absolute minimum to keeps the airplane in the sky, and if one of them falls from the sky every so often and crashes due to poor maintenance, it would still be cheaper to pay off the victims than to replace parts at the proper intervals.

          The libertarians would say the answer to this is to choose an airline with the lowest fatality rate.

          • The main difference is that if an ebay seller screws up your order of pogs , nobody dies.

            Depends on what is selling. There are plenty of things that you could buy off ebay that are capable of killing you if they're defective.

            If you a going to be carrying passengers, you'd better have a good driving record, a chauffeur's license and a vehicle that receives regular mandated safety inspection.

            Sounds good, although someone with a nasty car will get bad feedback, etc. Problem should take care of itself.

            And no, you can't trust the free market to self regulate. We've had airlines literally delay the installation of fixes to critical safety flaws because downing the jet to make the repairs cost too much time/money and hundreds have died as a result. If left entirely to the free market, the airlines would cut fleet maintenance to the absolute minimum to keeps the airplane in the sky, and if one of them falls from the sky every so often and crashes due to poor maintenance, it would still be cheaper to pay off the victims than to replace parts at the proper intervals.

            And, yet, airplane crashes still happen. The reason is that everybody still makes the calculation that you're talking about there, and we rely on lawsuit judgements to make it more expensive to pay off the victims.

            You're going to hate this part: you make the exac

      • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
        Meters are taxed. Taxis and taxi drivers are licensed, permitted, and regulated. Fares are regulated. Uber and it's drivers ignore all of those. The "so what" is that Uber and it's drivers are ignoring the laws in multiple jurisdiction.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ErikTheRed (162431)

      Uber has been operating in my city for many years now (we were one of the first to get it) and if there are any dark spots, I sure haven't seen them. You get a clean, polite driver driving a clean, well-maintained car. If for some reason you don't get a clean, polite driver driving a clean, well-maintained car you can give feedback to Uber letting them know this. I would imagine that they axe any problematic drivers fairly quickly, because reports of bad ones are rare and I haven't had any (nor has anyone I

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        The one thing that gets people is that they go to a supply / demand bidding system during ultra-high-demand periods like New Year's Eve. They put warnings all over the place when they do this, but prices can get VERY, VERY high.

        Might sound strange, but I'm okay with this. Helps limit demand to only the essential. Personally, I prefer the service be available if you're willing to pay the price than for the drivers to decide that they'd rather have new year's off as well combined with insane demand resulting in effectively NO service for most people.

        As for the black cabs, I kind of hope that the plan backfires on them as people blame THEM and not Uber for the disruption, thus calling for sanctions/loss of privilege for them, not u

      • Re: Buggy whips (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LarhoIm (217789) on Friday May 09, 2014 @03:31AM (#46956973)
        What you, and your fellow Americans posting here, seem to forget (or perhaps you do not know?) is that with London black cabs, you already get a clean and well maintained car with a professional driver. On top of that, said driver actually knows his way around, as he had to prove this when he was given his license, and continuously have to prove it again when he is tested on a regular basis. The London black cabs are regulated and every single driver have to adhere to standards in order to keep his/her license. Fail to drive the best route somewhere? The person in the back might just be a "mystery shopper" and you could lose your license... The black cabs also have an app (Hailo) which can be used to book, track and pay for your ride using any of your stored cards. This is not a case of cabbies stomping their feet and whining, they just do not take well to Ãoeber bypassing the requirements they have to adhere to.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by LordLucless (582312)

          What you, and your fellow Americans posting here, seem to forget (or perhaps you do not know?) is that with London black cabs, you already get a clean and well maintained car with a professional driver. On top of that, said driver actually knows his way around, as he had to prove this when he was given his license, and continuously have to prove it again when he is tested on a regular basis.

          In that case, they've got nothing to worry about - their superior service at a competitive cost (I notice you didn't mention that - their prices are competitive, aren't they?) will result in them out-competing Uber's inferior service. Of course, their actions demonstrate that they are afraid - presumably, they're afraid that Uber will give consumers the choice to pay less, even if it means the car's a bit dirtier, and the driver a bit more ignorant. After all, the consumers can't actually be allowed any cho

        • Re: Buggy whips (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bradley13 (1118935) on Friday May 09, 2014 @04:37AM (#46957207) Homepage

          I don't live in London, but I have been there (and elsewhere in the UK) many times. Yes, the ubiquitous black cab is nice, and the drivers are competent. The question really is this: Should the government prohibit consumers from paying someone else for a ride?

          As long as the customer understands that they are basically hitching a ride with an unknown private person, I just don't see the problem. If I want the assurance of a black cab, I'll flag one down. If I don't care, then I don't care - it's really not much different from sticking my thumb out and hitching a ride, except I have some assurance that someone will actually stop and pick me up.

          • Re: Buggy whips (Score:4, Insightful)

            by LarhoIm (217789) on Friday May 09, 2014 @05:21AM (#46957293)

            The question really is this: Should the government prohibit consumers from paying someone else for a ride?

            If only this was the question.

            The government is regulating the market at the moment, however Uber is trying to bypass the regulations the rest of the market have to adhere to.

            Uber is doing this via providing an inferior, unregulated service, which may, or may not be competitive on price.

            Most customers will not be able to tell the difference between the route selected by an Uber driver, and the route being selected by someone who is bound by a requirement to know what is the optimal route. In the end the customers will be the ones paying the price, without even knowing they were ripped off.

            Want to book a cab via an app? Use the existing one for the licensed cabbies?
            Want to compete in this market? Compete on even terms, get fully licensed drivers to sign up to Uber and let the proof be in the pudding.

            • Except according to the government, they are NOT bypassing the law. Transport for London says that Uber is legal, then Uber is legal no matter what the LTDA thinks.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rtb61 (674572)

      The government could of course get them used to idea and allow them to economically adapt by auctioning off cab license on say a three year term with strictly one licence per bidder and the bidder (a person, an actual human being) must prove themselves capable of operating a cab. The number of licences defined by the lowest bid achieving a minimum defined value a portion of which should be returned upon successful completion of the cab licence period so that a skilled and well behaved cabbie can use it for

      • Re:Buggy whips (Score:5, Informative)

        by Imrik (148191) on Friday May 09, 2014 @04:44AM (#46957221) Homepage

        London is one of the few places where having a cab license actually means something. They have to take strict tests to prove they know the streets of London, both to get their license and to keep it. They also have to provide a certain level of service and take good routes or they could get it pulled if their fare turns out to be an inspector.

    • Re:Buggy whips (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gijoel (628142) on Friday May 09, 2014 @02:16AM (#46956727)
      Dude, considering the number of times GPS units send people driving into the ocean, or down a train tunnel, I think it's going to be a while before robotic cars are going to be safer than humans.

      I really don't see how Uber are going to be protecting customers. Do they require background/criminal/driving history checks on their drivers? Do they require require vehicle inspections to determine how safe your car is? There a plethora of other requirements that I can't think of that I know have been address on other threads.
      • by ah.clem (147626)

        Do they require background/criminal/driving history checks on their drivers? Do they require require vehicle inspections to determine how safe your car is? There a plethora of other requirements that I can't think of that I know have been address on other threads.

        I suspect that you have never gotten a hack license, worked as a cabbie or take cabs very often. I drove a cab for a short time while in college, leaving after one of the drivers I worked with was killed for pocket change. In the world of cab monopolies, money seems to go a long way. But that's how it's done in America. Money always talks and smooths the path; to believe otherwise (or even, in my opinion, believe what the money folks tell you) is a bit naive. But that's just my experience, yours might

      • by JosKarith (757063)
        The company has the drivers name and address. If there are any issues with the driver they won't get away with it.
    • FYI, this is fundamentally to protect customers. For example, this [thelocal.fr] and this [thelocal.fr] were recently reported as occurring in Paris by illegals cabbies.
      • It's not like being a legal taxi driver prevents you from being a murderer [wikipedia.org]. Or even just charging illegal fees [www.cbc.ca].

        I'm sure that most illegal cabbies are just trying to make a living. The best solution is probably to end the protectionist rackets that limit the numbers of legal taxis.

        • by whoever57 (658626)

          The best solution is probably to end the protectionist rackets that limit the numbers of legal taxis.

          London taxi drivers are not licensed according to their ability to buy or rent a $500,000 (or whatever the going rate is) medallion or according to a quota, but instead, according to their ability to provide a good service, specifically "the knowledge" -- knowing where every street in London is without using a map and knowing the fastest route there.

    • Actually, up until 1976 it was a legal requirement for taxi drivers to carry hay in case their horses got a bit peckish. It's an area in which regulations seem to change very slowly.

      There's been a (decades-) long ongoing war between black-cab taxis (which you can hail on the street) and minicabs (private cars you book by phone) and this is merely another phase of that battle.

      There is a genuine issue of ensuring standards (for example, disabled accessibility to vehicles), but these are things taxi drivers ha

  • When it settles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My problem with Uber is that they don't pay its cabdrivers when they dont have any customer. If a cab driver get sick she or he will not get paid. Right now there are two few drivers for the market but when everything settles (more Uber-like companies) most taxi drivers will not get payd work thier hours they put in. Uber will still make money since it does not cost much extra to have 1000 cars or 10000 cars. But when there are two many cars for the market workers will suffer greatly.


  • Innovate or die.

    As usual the established trade is resisting any changes to the model. Why don't they take this moment & implement their own competing system & instead of owning cabs own an app?

    But but but this is our lively-hood they tell you, think of the children! -no one said driving a car & knowing London's roads will land you a lifetime job.

    We know this all too well, they will used their position and established financial base to throw an army of litigation at it and maybe they'll shu
  • by thesandbender (911391) on Friday May 09, 2014 @04:10AM (#46957125)
    I'm a New Yorker who makes frequent use of the yellow cabs here and has had the pleasure of using London cabs.

    In NYC, it's basically the taxi's the are licensed. Any yellow cab has to have a medallion [wikipedia.org] and they are expensive... often going for $750k+ USD. Once you have the medallion you can lease/rent it to just about any hack who qualifies for a drivers license.

    In London, it's the drivers that are heavily regulated. The tests are notoriously hard and London cabbies either have or acquire neurology that is much more spatially oriented than normal [wired.com].

    The difference may be subtle to most people but it's important. When you get in a cab in NYC, you usually need to be explicit about the route that should be taken. Nefarious types will often take you through Times Square, Union Square, Canal Street or other traffic nightmares to run up the tab. London cabbies pride themselves (at least in my experience) on on knowing every last back road that will get you there that much faster.

    So I see their point. They're a group of professionals.... who act like professionals. They've put a lot of time and effort into becoming such, I'd want to protect my turf as well.
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      I agree with you, in principle.
      However, the value that they bring has to be WORTH IT. That's how capitalism works: if someone is willing to do the job cheaper than you and they do it "well enough", they will get business. My cab driver can also do surgery and quote Tennyson? Great - I'm not paying for it.
      It's not the purchaser's responsibility to offer a 'living' or 'fair' payment for what you're bringing. They are going to buy the cheapest service possible that does what they want.

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      All of these posts and so few mentions of The Knowledge [wikipedia.org]. Its average time to train and pass is about 3 years and is widely renowned as extremely tough. There's a reason so many cabbies are ex-beat coppers - they're some of the few people who know the streets well enough to even begin. You need exceptional spatial awareness and an excellent memory for names and place details*. I've not been to NY so I can't draw any parallels, but from a cursory glance at a map it looks like it has a vastly simpler road netw

  • I doubt anyone will notice.
  • Free marketeers and Randroids, especially those in business are the biggest hypocrites.

    It's funny how the most ardent free marketers turn into rent-seekers when they're faced with real competition.

    I bet Ayn Rand didn't imagine that her beloved Galtian supermen are actually the real looters and parasites.

    Where's the government when you need them??

  • Thats going to be the "fun" part of this problem.

  • We have a serious problem in that anything new always meets strong or even violent resistance without regard to the quality of the new idea or service. We see this with the Tesla cars where conspiracies to stop Tesla abound. And it is true that London is known for good taxi service but even in the US most taxi services are an abomination. Further the scope of such laws could be over reaching. Am I suddenly not free to offer a neighbor $20. to drop me at the airport? I know car dealers that feel

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