The impression on twitter from many black cab drivers is that most countries have banned Uber and it is only Boris Johnson who is holding out. Research proves this is false. Uber operate in 55 countries and over 200 cities. Details are here. When Boris Johnson tried to level with BC drivers last Thursday that, amongst other things, they were dealing with a “powerful market force”, that now looks like an understatement. He was met with a blast of anger and insults from black cab drivers for telling the truth.What is getting banned is UberPop, another branch of Uber, a car sharing service. Whenever this is happens, hard core BC drivers (often UNITE members), report that Uber has been banned again. As UberPop is different from Uber, they are not telling the truth. France and Germany have banned UberPop, that is not the same as banning Uber.
In May 2015, Uber revealed plans to raise between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in new funding, raising the value of the company to $50 billion or higher. The company’s methods are aggressive to say the least, including avoiding regulation, surge pricing, safety issues, the list goes on. But for every cease and desist order, Uber bounces back, perkier than ever. According to Alex Proud of the Daily Telegraph, instead of constantly griping about Uber, black cabs need to suck up the competition and change their business model. Proud says: “With Uber, technological disruption has come to their cosy cartel and there’s nothing they can do about it. They may as well try and hold back the sea. Besides I don’t buy many of their arguments.”
He goes on: ” Of course, I think the regulators need to look at Uber carefully and ensure a level playing field, although the TFL-related protests suggest to me that a level playing field is the last thing the taxi drivers really want.” Boris Johnson is taking Uber to court over the smart meter. With his usual directness, he had the guts to level with the BC drivers and acquaint them with the bigger picture, unlike London Assembly members, Val Shawcross and Caroline Pidgeon.
These ladies have ignored the reality of Uber from the word go. Never once has either of them had the courage to mention the dreaded word “modernisation” to the BC trade. The heading of the article in the Telegraph is London cabbies are fighting a losing battle against Uber.
The legal status of Uber‘s service in a number of countries around the world is a matter of contention. Uber is the subject of ongoing protests from taxi drivers, taxi companies, and governments, who believe that it is an illegal taxicab operation that engages in unfair business practices and compromises passenger safety.
But as Boris Johnson explained to the London Assembly, however stringent the orders against them, Uber has a habit of reinventing themselves. Banned throughout Germany in August 2014, by a cease and desist order, the company was back in business throughout the country by September, the upshot being the case must be heard in a higher court.
The branch of Uber that other countries are banning seems to be UberPop. Uber itself chugs merrily on.
Clearly though this was explained to Val and Caroline, they, maybe understandably. refused to accept the truth of what the Mayor was saying, preferring to revert to crowd pleasing cries of “You are killing the black cab trade!” and, more nastily, “You don’t have the guts.” This utterly short sighted attitude delighted the cab drivers, who didn’t realise for them, it was the road to ruin.
The London taxi trade is the biggest in the world,worth £2.7 billion. It is unrealistic to expect the past BC monopoly to last forever, no industry stays frozen in time. If Uber all dropped dead tomorrow, another hot shot company with an app. would be jostling to take its place.
Uber clearly aren’t going to go away. As Boris said, we cannot ignore consumer choice. Over a million customers here and rising love Uber, they love the app. and they love cheaper fares. Black cabs still have their devoted fans, me included and they still have a niche in the market. They are skilled, trusted, an icon that means safety for their customers.
Non-stop complaining and looking for scapegoats is not getting them anywhere though. They need to listen to Boris,accept that Uber is here to stay, and update to meet the Uber challenge. Boris is not killing the black cab market, it is a whole lot more complicated than that. Unless BC drivers face that and take action, they are signing their own death warrants.