Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/09/london_cabbies/
London cabbies to offer EVEN WORSE service in protest against Uber
This ain't a bubble barf, mate ... Hackneyed taxi drivers want app BANNED OR ELSE
As if London didn't have enough traffic on its streets, the capital's cabbies have vowed to bring the city to a standstill in a protest against the taxi-booking phone app Uber.
The big smoke's grumpiest drivers are furious that minicabs are now using Uber to calculate fares and tout for business. Union bosses claimed the use of Uber is tantamount to installing a taximeter – which is illegal in minicabs.
They have threatened to clog London's already congested streets in protest against the "American monster" Uber unless the app is banned in the capital.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LDTA), said Transport for London (TfL) had refused to address his colleagues' concerns.
"TfL not enforcing the Private Hire Vehicles Act is dangerous for Londoners," he said.
"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."
The LDTA described Uber as "an American monster that has no qualms about breaching any and all laws in the pursuit of profit, most of which will never see a penny of tax paid in the UK”.
Although Uber uses phrases like "reliable pick ups" and "one tap to ride" to describe itself, there is absolutely no sexual component to its services.
Instead, it simply offers a cashless method of booking taxis via a smartphone. Pictures of the driver are sent ahead to the person booking a taxi, and also Uber claims to runs background checks on its drivers to cut down on the risk of pervs preying on passengers.
Routes are also emailed to customers, to avoid fare quibbles, and can be seen by their friends.
Uber has been banned in Brussels, where Brigitte Grouwels, regional transport minister, branded the upstart "cowboys". It is also facing a partial ban in Berlin, although the Reg's favourite European vice-commissioner for the digital agenda Neelie Kroes said the vetoes sent an “anti-tech message”.
Transport for London has few qualms about the hi-tech replacement for the hackneyed cab industry.
"We have seen no evidence to suggest that Uber London Ltd are not fit and proper to hold a London private hire vehicle operator's licence, but no final decisions have been made whilst Uber's operating model is still under investigation," it told the Beeb.
"Competition in my view is always good for the customer because it makes all of us up our game in terms of quality and service," Jo Bertram, Uber's general manager in London, added.
"On the driver side, we offer a much more flexible model that is very different from the old-school private hire industry, that allows them to work as independent business operators however and whenever they choose." ®