Uber victory: Transport for London releases statement siding with app in cabbies row

Bad news for black cab drivers, but good news for ride-sharing apps (and their users): Transport for London (TfL) has released a statement confirming that Uber is operating legally in London.

Cabbies had previously challenged TfL’s position, because Uber drivers calculate journey distances and fares using an app. Taxi drivers say this is equivalent to using a taximeter, which under the Private Hire Vehicles Act, only licenced cabs are allowed to have. They held a large-scale protest in the centre of London on 11 June, aimed at causing ‘chaos’. But this may have backfired, as unimpressed passengers embraced Uber as never before, with a reported 850% (yep) increase in sign-ups.

TfL had referred the case to the High Court but because of ongoing legislation brought against Uber drivers by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, the case will now not be heard for a long time, if at all. So TfL has instead sought legal advice and concluded that Uber is not breaching the Private Hire Vehicles Act and there is no further case for them to answer. The statement says: ‘TfL’s view is that smart phones that transmit location information (based on GPS data) between vehicles and operators, have no operational or physical connection with the vehicles, and receive information about fares which are calculated remotely from the vehicle, are not taximeters within the meaning of the legislation.’

Of course, cabbies argue that the law was written before the invention of smartphones and should be updated to include virtual taximeters in light of this. But neither authorities nor customers seem convinced. Whether cabbies are willing to put up and shut up from now on remains to be seen.

Image via shining.darkness’ Flickr.

Diane Shipley

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