I hate to say this, but I knew before everybody else. Three weeks ago, before the news that the cab company had lost their London license was announced on the 22nd of September, I was in an Uber from London Bridge to Westbourne Park. “We’ve lost our license you know. Uber is finished.” Abdul (4.75 stars) casually announced this to me while doing a swift Indiana Jones through an amber light.
“What?” I said, in denial, imagining it to be a case of those eternally “closing down” shops. But Abdul was right. On September 22, Uber lost their license to trade in London on the grounds of “lax” corporate responsibility. “Public safety and security implications” were cited as the most prominent reasons by regulator, TfL.
Naturally, this news has caused uproar among riders, drivers, workers and of course, Twitter. Some users were more dramatic than others, claiming that the ban on the popular taxi service app was “the second coming of Brexit,” one even likening it to the Apocalypse. A common theme suggests that this is the product of an underlying race war in the UK. Since the news, Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, made a statement accepting that the company had “got things wrong.” PM May has commented that the ban is “disproportionate” and has wiped out 40,000 jobs.
Anyone else seeing echos of similarity of this uber ban vs Brexit?
— Peter Mac Mac Mac! (@petermac23) September 23, 2017
On the 30th, not only does Uber stop operating in London, my student card also expires…
The apocalypse is now.
— Alistair🇬🇧🇨🇳🇲🇾 (@Alistair_WW_Mac) September 25, 2017
Concerns with Uber and the Race Question
Last week, TfL banned Uber saying it was not a “fit and proper” private car-hire operator due to many areas of concern. The approach to reporting criminal offences and driver background checks were the worst problems. Khosrowshahi admittance that they “got things wrong” and Theresa May’s public disapproval leaves the door ajar for a new licence application. That said, TfL can’t afford to relax any rules. Uber will either have to change their conduct or surrender their niche to competitors.
The feud between TfL black cabs and Ubers has been ongoing and at the forefront is the question of race. “Many Uber drivers are non-white immigrants, while most black cab drivers are white and British.” Business Insider also said that where most Londoners voted to remain in the EU Referendum last year, a lot of black cab drivers voted to leave. 90% of Uber drivers being BME, means that stripping the license could also go against working requirements of the 2010 Equality Act.
European boss of Uber, Jo Bertram, stood down yesterday for “unrelated” reasons but Khosrowshahi is scheduled to visit TfL today. However, Theresa May’s public disapproval and Uber’s Goldman Sachs-backed CEO, makes it seem likely that an agreement could be reached for the firm.
With 3.5 million users of the app in the capital, it is clear that only something very similar would be a sufficient replacement. From a millennial’s perspective, there’s no time to be hailing down a black cab and nervously sweating throughout the journey as the meter goes up. Although a lot of us probably don’t care what it is, we would all like a cab app that is convenient and as cheap as Uber and for now, Lyft, Addison Lee and London Black Cabs do not meet the demands of the Uber demographic.