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London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber 417

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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  • by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @04:15AM (#46957149)

    So in this particular case it will be interesting to watch the fairly well monied Uber fighting with the zillion somewhat less monied cab companies.

    They're not fighting the cab companies. They're fighting the black cab drivers.

    London has a peculiar system. There are black cabs - which can be hailed on the street, within certain limits they are obliged to take you to your destination (so if they're waiting at a major station hoping for a lucrative fare and you want to go around the corner, they have to take you and lose their place in the queue at the station), and the fare is calculated by an installed meter and is relative to time and distance travelled. (There is a minimum fare)

    Private hire cars must be pre-booked (the booking only has to be a few minutes in advance - typically you ring up the office and then they send the nearest car to pick you up), and they're under no obligation at all to take you when you call when they hear where you want to go.

    Uber uses a metering system linked to an app. Black cabs are the only taxis allowed to have a meter fitted. TfL (Transport for London) have said they don't consider the app to be "fitted" and therefore the law banning other cars from having a meter fitted doesn't apply.

    Black cabs also have to pass a rather impressive test. Within the area they're obliged to carry passengers, they're required to show they know every street, landmark etc. (Apparently, when they're examined, a favourite trick of the examiners is to ask them to do a journey where roadworks have temporarily closed the "usual" way and the drivers are expected to know about it and not just "follow the diversion" but take the best route knowing in advance that there are roadworks.)

  • 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.

  • by shortscruffydave ( 638529 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @05:59AM (#46957391)

    What these drivers are asking for is a special privilege to be a superior class of citizen: To be spared any natural competition.

    And what they're doing is not protesting. It's throwing a tantrum.

    In saying that, you demonstrate that you have no idea how good London cabbies are at their job, an dhow hard they have to work to get to that position.

    They are vetted and must have no criminal record, and they are regulated by the Public Carriage Office

    The Knowledge is notoriously difficult, and leads to them having an encyclopaedic knowledge of the streets of central London - something like every street in a 10 mile radius of Charing Cross, every hotel, cinema, theatre, etc. Every time they've been put into competition with a SatNav, the route they calculate *in their head* is superior to anything that technology can come up with.

    There's no way some guy with a smartphone app can be seen as anything like a peer for a proper London Cabbie.

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