Taxi drivers in London are planning legal action if Uber receives a new operating license in September, the trade journal TaxiPoint reports. The United Trade Action Group (UTAG), a group of taxi organizations working in tandem, has released a statement to members describing their next steps should Uber receive a new license.
Steve McNamara, the chairman of the influential Licensed Taxi Drivers ’Association (LTDA) noted during the recent Eurasian taxi conference MEFT in Moscow that the atmosphere around Uber has changed. Not only have new competitive apps been added to the London mobility market and the new electric LEVC taxi, of which 2,500 have already been sold in the British capital, is a bonus for the taxi trade, but Londoners in particular seem to be turning away from Uber, which for a very long time was very popular.
The London taxi trade has already reminded the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that at the time he was London’s mayor, he wanted to cap the mushrooming number of private hire vehicles in the city (mainly Uber), just like New York City has done.
In September 2017, Regulator Transport for London (TfL) refused to extend Uber London Limited’s Private Hire Vehicle Operator License with the usual five years. The company only received a provisional permit through a legal procedure. This provisional licence expires in six weeks.
At the time, a letter from Helen Chapman, TfL’s head of licensing, explained TfL’s reasons for the decision. It was concluded that “Transport for London (TfL) is not convinced that Uber London Limited is a fit and proper party for obtaining a permit.”
In June 2018, the court overturned TfL’s decision and gave Uber a 15-month provisional license. The company argued that since TfL’s decision it had taken a number of measures to prevent (further) problems. However, civil servants and politicians continued to express concerns about the quality of Uber’s services. “It is difficult for Uber to come up with the same story that they are going to mend their ways and improve,” says McNamara. “Because we’ve heard that story so many times. And nothing’s happened.”
Quite the contrary. Last week it was revealed that a fine had been imposed on Uber for violating the terms of its license. The court fined the company £ 28,800 (€ 30.900) for allowing drivers to pick up passengers in London without the required insurance for private hire vehicles.
MP Wes Streeting, president of the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis,’ said, “This is just the latest example of Uber’s disregard for the rules of the profession. Again, Uber’s status as a suitable and appropriate party is seriously questioned. The mayor and TfL must act now. ”
UTAG, consisting of drivers and stakeholders from all over the industry, has since announced that it will take legal action if Uber were to be granted another licence: “Uber never intended to comply with the law and their operations are not in accordance with the law either.” The UTAG says it has collected crucial evidence for this and will hand it over to TfL.
The loss of the London market, the second most important for Uber after New York, would be a major blow to the company.
*** Mac Urata’s column in ‘Opinion’ contains some interesting thoughts on this topic and on Uber’s DNA.
- At the MEFT-conference in Moscow Steve McNamara, the chairman of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), announced legal action if Uber were to be given a new operating licence in London.