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Businesses The Almighty Buck Transportation

London Has Decided To Ban Uber (recode.net) 224

Johana Bhuiyan, writing for Recode: Transport for London, the taxi regulating service in London, announced today that it would not be renewing Uber's license to operate because of concerns over the company's "lack of corporate responsibility" in relation to public safety issues. The ride-hail company, which launched in London in 2012, is appealing the TfL's decision and will be allowed to continue to operate until a court makes a decision on that appeal. That process could take months. London is a significant market for Uber: The company says there are 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million riders on its platform in London. And like New York City, it is one of the most regulated markets where Uber operates. Unlike most markets across the U.S., Uber drivers in London and New York City are required to participate in government administered background checks.
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London Has Decided To Ban Uber

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  • ride-hail company (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fred6666 ( 4718031 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:06AM (#55243953)

    Ride-hail company? What's that? It's a taxi company.

    • Re:ride-hail company (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wootery ( 1087023 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:09AM (#55243983)

      Legally it's not.

      Here in the UK, taxi driving and private-hire driving both require a special driving licence, with a background-check. [www.gov.uk] Uber drivers don't have these.

      • by fred6666 ( 4718031 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:10AM (#55243993)

        Which is a trick they are using to avoid complying with the law. It doesn't make them something else than they are.

        • Re:ride-hail company (Score:5, Informative)

          by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:21AM (#55244069)

          Which is a trick they are using to avoid complying with the law. It doesn't make them something else than they are.

          Yep, they are a private hire transport company, or a mini-cab company in laymans terms. And you're right, they aren't complying with the extremely lax regulations for private hire vehicles. Its not a difficult thing to get a PHV (Private Hire Vehicle) drivers license and it is the drivers responsibility to get it, but the hiring company is still responsible for ensuring all drivers carry the correct license class and insurance. Uber has failed at that. But its the response or lack there of to complaints about criminal activity by drivers and passengers that has earned the ire of TFL (Transport For London). Uber has been permitted to skirt the rules on licenses and insurance for years, however when allegations of assault or theft go unanswered, thats when TFL can no longer ignore the situation.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by phayes ( 202222 )

          The thing is, people like you who consider words to be polymorphic and change definitions depending on how you feel about those they apply to, aren't those who's opinion counts for anything. The people that count are the legislators that create the laws, the police and other administrations that apply them and the judiciary that interprets them.

          According to the Law in the U.K., Uber is a Ride-Hail company.

          Perhaps you'd be happier in a country like Turkey Russia or North Korea where the head of state defines

          • Re:ride-hail company (Score:5, Informative)

            by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:45AM (#55244249)

            Nope. According the UK law, Uber is a Private Hire Company. There's no such category as a Ride-Hail company in the UK.

            Only Taxis are allowed to accept flag downs on the street, and Ubers are not classed as Taxis. They operate on the Private Hire arrangement where cars must be booked in advance. Traditionally by ringing the dispatcher. But Uber has extended that to using the app instead of ringing.

            • Not being able to accept street hails is no problem because Uber is intended to replace the archaic hailing model.

              • by shilly ( 142940 )

                It may be archaic, but it also offers some distinct *advantages* over Uber: it can be much faster to jump in a cab when you come out of a restaurant than to get an Uber, for example.

                • Easier still to just book your cab as you pay the restaurant tab so the car is there for you as you exit, rather than having to stand outside in the rain yelling at cabs.

                  • by shilly ( 142940 )

                    Well, not really. The Uber frequently arrives too soon or too late -- and you have to stand outside in the rain peering at license plates to work out if this Prius is your Prius. Also, all too frequently, drivers accept a fare that they cannot practically take, e.g., on the wrong side of the Finchley Road (where there's no place to turn). And there's neither a need to yell, nor to stand in the rain: stand in the doorway under the awning and just pop out and wave your hand when the yellow light of the cab is

                    • You know when the car will arrive and when it does arrive because the app tells you. Gives you both a countdown, and a display on the map where the uber is.

                      Drivers have no information on where the ride pick up is when they accept the ride. Only how many minutes it should take them to get to it. And they don't know the destination either.

                      But the app should choose the driver that has the shortest time to get to you. Which ought to take into account of one way streets etc, being on the right side of the road e

          • by Pax681 ( 1002592 )

            According to the Law in the U.K., Uber is a Ride-Hail company.

            again i refer you to this. https://www.uber.com/en-GB/dri... [uber.com]
            this shows that to drive with them in Scotland you need a private hire license. the car also needs to pass a "private hire MOT" which checks for hygiene ,mechanical soundness, safety and cosmetic condition. While it might be a "ride hailing service" under English law, it certainly isn't in Scotland.
            English law != UK law

            • No, it's private hire in the rest of the UK too.

              There's no such thing as "ride-hail company" in UK law.

              • by Pax681 ( 1002592 )

                No, it's private hire in the rest of the UK too.

                There's no such thing as "ride-hail company" in UK law.

                cheers Basil.. i had a feeling there was an element of "madupium" in that OP!

      • I'm still trying to wrap my head around "lack of corporate responsibility"....??

        It appears from my reading that Uber does do the background checks in the UK that the taxi services do, so, that would seem to refute your argument there.

        It seems the corporate responsibility is more a code phrase for "bucking the system" currently in place that puts $$ back in the hands of the govt folks.

        Perhaps they don't like the idea that people can be grown ups and make adult decisions and do direct contracting?

      • by gnick ( 1211984 )

        Here in the UK, taxi driving and private-hire driving both require a special driving licence, with a background-check. Uber drivers don't have these.

        FTS:

        Unlike most markets across the U.S., Uber drivers in London and New York City are required to participate in government administered background checks.

        It sounds like London does require background checks. Are you objecting because there isn't a special license to go along with passing the check?

        • There is a special license in the UK, both for the company and each driver. It's called a private hire license (or badge for the driver).

          That's what Transport for London have refused to renew today.

      • Re:ride-hail company (Score:4, Informative)

        by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:39AM (#55244201)

        UK Uber drivers certainly do have private hire badges.

        And Uber has a private hire company license in each UK city it operates in. That's what they have not been allowed to renew in London today.

      • by Pax681 ( 1002592 )

        Legally it's not.

        Here in the UK, taxi driving and private-hire driving both require a special driving licence, with a background-check. [www.gov.uk] Uber drivers don't have these.

        Sorry you are wrong.. In Scotland you MUST have at least a private hire license and be in a car that has passed the "private hire MOT" which not only tests the vehicles mechanical soundness but also safety, hygiene, cosmetic condition. and drivers have to get checks to gain their license too.
        https://www.uber.com/en-GB/dri... [uber.com] note how they will assist you to get your private hire license for Edinburgh where I am.
        So legally ,YES IT IS a taxi service in Scotland. English law does not apply in Scotland!

      • Exactly! They sometimes uphold the law in the UK --- they NEVER uphold the law in the States.
    • Re:ride-hail company (Score:5, Informative)

      by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:14AM (#55244015)
      Well in English terminiology, we'd call them a minicab operation. Also on that, the fine article got one thing horribly wrong.

      it is one of the most regulated markets where Uber operates.

      For minicabs (private hire vehicles) London isn't. There are huge amounts of regulations for black cabs, but not minicabs. The difference between the two is that a minicab must be pre-booked and cant simply pick someone up off the street.

      What Uber has done is fail the most basic duty of care requirements for any employer by ensuring that their drivers are licensed and insured to a point where they can operate a private hire vehicle, it's not a stringent system as anyone who's ever taken a minicab could attest to. But that isn't what lost them their license, the bad part is that they haven't been responding to criminal activity in their vehicles, whether by their employees (the UK isn't buying that contractor malarkey) or by the passengers.

      • But that isn't what lost them their license, the bad part is that they haven't been responding to criminal activity in their vehicles, whether by their employees (the UK isn't buying that contractor malarkey) or by the passengers.

        That's actually not true. Uber was reporting the alleged incidents [theguardian.com] to Transport for London, the very governmental body that just took its license away. The logic TfL is employing (as far as I can make out, that Uber should have gone straight to the police when somehow neither TfL nor, more importantly, the passenger in the Uber seemed to think that was necessary) seems very strained and results-oriented.

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          But that isn't what lost them their license, the bad part is that they haven't been responding to criminal activity in their vehicles, whether by their employees (the UK isn't buying that contractor malarkey) or by the passengers.

          That's actually not true. Uber was reporting the alleged incidents [theguardian.com] to Transport for London, the very governmental body that just took its license away. The logic TfL is employing (as far as I can make out, that Uber should have gone straight to the police when somehow neither TfL nor, more importantly, the passenger in the Uber seemed to think that was necessary) seems very strained and results-oriented.

          So basically you've just backed up what I said.

          They failed to respond, TFL is not the place to report crimes, TFL would have told them to report it to the police and Uber failed to do so. So actually it is true.

          • Re:ride-hail company (Score:4, Interesting)

            by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @11:55AM (#55244779)

            So basically you've just backed up what I said.

            Well, no. You said, "they haven't been responding to criminal activity in their vehicles." That's clearly not true. The fact that their response was different than you would prefer is a different issue, one that I'm quite happy to discuss (and in fact did, but you ignored that part).

            TFL would have told them to report it to the police

            There's no "would have" here. Uber indeed did report the alleged incidents to TfL, and TfL indeed did NOT tell Uber to report them to the police. Again, I covered this in my first post.

            And once again, more importantly, if there was really CRIMINAL activity against a passenger, why didn't THE PASSENGER call the police instead of just (wait for it) filling out a feedback form in an app? Really?

            In addition to being implausible, the system you're is proposing is way too easy to hack. For example, a passenger gets pissed off at the Uber driver for whatever reason and wants to get even. Actually going to the police themselves would put them at risk of charges for filing a false police report, but in your system they could simply make a report to Uber and Uber would then be obligated to contact the police based solely on the word of the passenger (who now is shielded from liability since they didn't make the report to the police). The existing checks and balances in the system are there for a reason, and a system like yours would badly break them.

        • From the link you gave, Uber point of view, they believe that those 2 cases (that were not reported to the police by Uber) weren't serious and were from misunderstanding (but no detail in the link). However, the police point of view is that both cases were serious issues, which could be influent by political side (who knows?). But there is no detail for both cases, so I'm not sure anyone could decide which side is more correct (unless you take a side).

          PS: What is "Spray to identify criminal" (from the link)

          • What is "Spray to identify criminal" (from the link)??? Are there that kind of spray to identify criminal these days???

            Yup, here's an example [eightriver...rity.co.uk]. Bad guy ends up with a bright, indelible stain, which makes it a bit harder to later argue mistaken identity.

  • A wise move (Score:2, Interesting)

    From my perspective. Anecdotal evidence, but Iâ(TM)ve been hit more than once with the surge pricing scam. One particular Uber decided that it was $205.00 from JFK to mid-town Manhattan. I ended up taking a yellow for $65 plus tip. I like the concept of Uber and Lyft, but the execution feels greedy.
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Remember that when the next time it would be 55USD for an Uber.

      When I went, I got picked up by a limousine. No idea of the price as I did not pay it. Back I took the bus from central station. I think it was 12USD or 15USD,

    • Re:A wise move (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ark1 ( 873448 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:48AM (#55244273)
      What is great is that you know the price in advance with Uber. If you are not happy you can choose alternatives.
      • by shilly ( 142940 )

        Bollocks. You are given some rough estimate of the price that may or may not be accurate, especially with surge pricing.

        • Yes it's an estimate. And a more accurate one than you'll get with any other taxi/private hire car. Because it's estimate from the actual route planning on the map, not off the top of a driver or dispatcher's head.

          And not only is any surge clearly displayed before you hit the button to call an Uber, if there's a surge on, there's an additional confirmation dialogue to double-check you are OK paying the surge rate.

          • You donâ(TM)t get an estimate from a private hire company. You get a firm price. With a black cab, you get a transparently set rate per mile and minute. None of this is true for Uber. They should offer a fixed price, like a private hire company, or a set rate and Hackney carriage regulations. They want to have their cake and eat it.

            • An estimate of the price before you start the journey, which you ALWAYS get with Uber is better than "a transparently set rate per mile and minute" when you don't know what the distance or time is going to be.

              Uber will also be a considerably lower price than a taxi in all cases that there's not a surge on. And in nearly all cases compared with other PHVs too.

    • This is bullshit. A driver never gets to decide the price. The price is handled by the app. No cash changes hands in the app, nor does the driver get to charge the passenger's card himself.

      • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

        This is bullshit. A driver never gets to decide the price.

        A driver, no. But drivers, yes. Remember the story about Uber drivers colluding to all go offline at the same time to show a shortage of drivers thereby triggering surge pricing?

        • Which is not the story the previous guy was telling.

          • Which is not the story the previous guy was telling.

            You don't know that. The "previous guy" was describing an incident when surge pricing made a trip very expensive. There is no information on what caused the surge pricing: it could have been due to collusion.

            • The drivers could have colluded to try and create a surge. A process that's bound to be more hopeful than reliable. However what it was not was an Uber driver deciding to charge $205, and telling him that in advance. It simply does not work like that. It's bullshit.

    • Re:A wise move (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sinij ( 911942 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:56AM (#55244341)
      I hate to defend Uber, but they told you $205 upfront, BEFORE you got into the cab. Then you could decide what to do with that information. Before Uber days, cabs would charge you outrageous prices AFTER you arrived.
      • Before Uber days, cabs would charge you outrageous prices AFTER you arrived.

        I don't know about in London, but almost everywhere in the US, cabs have their rates printed on the outside of the cab, so you know what the prices are before you even get in.

    • So in a freer, open market, you made a wise consumer choice, according to your own standards.

      Sounds like the free market working as intended.

    • One particular Uber decided that it was $205.00 from JFK to mid-town Manhattan. I ended up taking a yellow for $65 plus tip.

      So what you're saying is that you always aim for the cheapest form of transport. By jumping from a company that prices based on supply and demand to a company that has fixed pricing at all times you have successfully managed to screw over everyone, and then you dare to complain about it despite the fact that you were only in this position due to the good grace of the company you're calling "scam".

      I like the concept of Uber and Lyft, but the execution feels greedy.

      I like the concept of mandatory economics lessons.

    • by galabar ( 518411 )
      So, you had various choices and you went with the one you wanted?
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:33AM (#55244153)

    learn the knowledge

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      learn the knowledge

      Or buy a satnav. I'm the first to admit that a properly qualified London cabbie will do better than a satnav. They will be able to tell you things like - "it's one way, I can drop you off at the corner here and it's two minutes walk down there, or in this traffic I can drop you off at the door in ten minutes". The thing is that a satnav is 95% as good with a lot less investment, meaning much cheaper prices from a larger pool of drivers

    • Not required unless you work specifically for a London taxi company. And frankly I take a minicab long before I hail a taxi.

    • It'll typically take you 3 years or more to pass the Knowledge. And who knows if it'll be worth anying in 3-5 years time. GPS navigation for taxis/PHVs is not going to go away.

      I feel sorry for people learning The Knowledge now. They may well have wasted their time and money.

  • While Uber is abusive and socially dubious corporation, what came before is even worse. I hope people remember how incestuous and overpriced traditional "regulated" plated cabs were. The only reason we have seen some degree of normalization there is because they are forced to compete with Uber.
    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @11:09AM (#55244419) Journal

      While Uber is abusive and socially dubious corporation,

      Yes.

      what came before is even worse.

      WTF? No. The world isn't America. This is London.

      London has had regulated minicabs (i.e. what Uber is) since about forever. If you didn't want to fork out for a black cab, you could use any one of the minicab firms. This ranged from the local dodgy one man band, to a local company with a reputation and a collection of taxis to a bigger company like Addison-Lee who had an app and GPS tracking for ages already.

    • While Uber is abusive and socially dubious corporation

      You forgot "criminal".

      what came before is even worse.

      You'll have to provide support for that assertion. At least in my part of the US, this appears to be untrue.

      I'm not saying that traditional cab companies are great or anything -- they tend to be pretty awful. But it sure looks like, at best, Uber is no better.

  • Hooray! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JohnFen ( 1641097 )

    Let's hope this is the start of a trend.

  • Use Real Words.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @12:08PM (#55244861) Homepage
    "Ride Hail Company" - I am sick and tired of people using euphemisms in a lame attempt to side track reality. (Alternate Facts?) .. Taking someone you don't know, to a place you don't normally go - FOR MONEY - is a Taxi. period.
    The problem with Uber is a corporation who's revenue model is built by taking pay and benefits way from the lowest link (the driver) and burdening them with expenses (their own car) and all liability all the while attempting to side step protections and taxes put in place by local governments.
    It's a sham and a parasite and it's creators need to be sitting behind bars next to martin shkreli.
    • The problem with Uber is a corporation who's revenue model is built by taking pay and benefits way from the lowest link (the driver) and burdening them with expenses (their own car) and all liability

      Many taxi companies are built around the same general employment relationship and compensation model [chron.com]. Some excepts:

      Determining a taxi driver's pay varies based on several factors. If you own your own taxi, you get to keep the entire fare, minus expenses . If you lease, you must pay a daily rate out of your incoming fares, plus the cost of gas. Some companies take a percentage of your fare instead of a flat-rate lease payment.

      Fare Percentage

      When you work for a taxi company who charges you a percentage of your fares for the right to drive the cab, that rate is typically one-third of your overall gross fare income , according to "Forbes."

      Additional Fees

      In addition to paying a daily rental fee or return a portion of the fares to the cab company, many companies require you to pay additional fees for the right to drive a cab. Most require you to refuel the vehicle before returning it, and some charge you up to 10 percent for customers' credit card transactions. Because many cabbies are independent contractors, cab companies might require you to carry insurance, such as general liability. The cab owners typically take care of insuring the vehicle and maintenance costs. As an independent contractor, you might discover other costs involved, such as the need to purchase your own health insurance and pay your own taxes .

      What are you suggesting is fundamentally different?

      It's a sham and a parasite

      These are interesting words to lob at Uber when the incumbent taxicab business model is the one based on protectionism and artificial scarcity.

      • Steps to becoming a NYC taxi driver:
        Step 1: the basic requirements. New York City Taxi Driver licenses are issued by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). ...
        Step 2: prepare the paperwork. ...
        Step 3: your finances. ...
        Step 4: the training. ...
        Step 5: the application. ...
        Step 6: the drug test.
        http://www.drivers.com/article... [drivers.com]
        Steps to becoming an Uber driver..... download an app....
        Minimum requirements
        Anybody can drive with Uber, although there are a few minimum requirements:
        https://www.ub [uber.com]
    • Taking someone you don't know, to a place you don't normally go - FOR MONEY - is a Taxi. period.

      So when has a limo company ever been called a taxi service?

  • by fedos ( 150319 )
    Hopefully this becomes a trend.
  • If people felt unsafe using Uber, Uber would lose riders, and if Uber drivers were unsafe, they wouldn't get insurance. Given Uber's constant tracking of both drivers and passengers, you're probably safer in an Uber ride than in a taxi.

    No, Uber bans are simply about money and power, using "public safety" as a smokescreen: the London city government wants to force people to send money in the direction of their political cronies: taxi operators, unions, public transit monopolies, because they know full well t

    • by shilly ( 142940 )

      Or alternatively, if people felt safe, but actually weren't, because Uber didn't do its job properly, then people would get attacked. Oh look! That's what's happened...

    • by shilly ( 142940 )

      Oh, and one other point: the Tube alone carried 1.37 billion passengers last year; buses carried 2.4bn+; the DLR is another 140m+; same for London Overground. Never mind being a competitive threat, Uber's paltry 3.5m riders can't even provide substantial headroom for the system. They are completely insignificant, while also being a complete pain in the arse.

  • They refer to 'concerns' over how Uber reports crimes in their cabs?

    What, specifically, do they mean?

    What are they doing or not doing that's different than the Black Cabs? Are there specific incidents?

    Be specific, or it sounds more like a political hit job.

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