Transport for London backs down on Uber regulations
Private hire company delighted after 'bonkers ideas' are dropped, but black cabs say it is a 'missed opportunity'
Uber has won a significant victory against Transport for London (TfL) in the battle over tightening regulations on the use of private hire vehicles in London.
TfL, which regulates transport in the capital, has dropped proposals the Californian-based pick-up service said would have severely hindered its business, including a ban on smartphone apps displaying the location of nearest Uber cars and a minimum five-minute waiting time between pick-up request and driver dispatch.
Jo Bertram, Uber’s regional general manager in the UK, said: "We're pleased that Transport for London has listened to the views of passengers and drivers, dropping the bonkers ideas proposed last year, like compulsory five-minute wait times and banning showing cars in apps."
The original proposals were sparked by pressure from London's black-cab drivers, who feel Uber has led to "unfair competition".
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) called today's decision a "missed opportunity," reports the BBC.
"Uber's power in Whitehall, Downing Street and beyond has put enormous pressure on Transport for London and we've seen TfL's genuine desire to regulate private hire vehicles curtailed by the political pressure put upon it," said an LTDA spokesperson.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has asked TfL to investigate different measures that could be imposed on ride-hiring companies in the capital, such as dropping congestion charge exemptions, while some of the original proposals are still on the table, such as ensuring drivers can speak English to a proficient level and the obligation to provide a quote for the journey in advance.
"TfL estimates that the number of private hire vehicles circulating within the central zone has increased by over 50 per cent in the last two years, meaning one in ten vehicles entering the zone is now a minicab," says the Evening Standard.
Uber now has 25,000 vehicles on the streets of London, roughly matching the number of black-cab drivers.
TfL launched their consultation into Uber and pick-up services in September 2015, receiving 16,000 responses. A final decision on the modified proposals will be taken on 17 March.