Anti-Uber Protest Brings Central London to a Standstill

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Black cabs are an iconic part of the London landscape. On Wednesday though, their drivers brought parts of London to standstill in protest againt the rise of Uber and its alternative taxi service. Drivers parked up their cabs, waved placards and sounded their horns in key London landmarks such as Trafalgar Square and Whitehall, where almost all British government departments are based.

Cab drivers block London streets to protest Uber's new taxi service

Cabs line the streets outside London government offices

They even parked up outside Downing Street, which houses Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cabs parked outside London government offices

The black cab drivers are angry at Uber being given licences in London, believing that they do not meet the same regulatory standards as traditional cabbies. Uber insist that all its drivers comply with local regulation.

The Silicon Valley based company are currently engaged in a battle in the British courts with Transport for London (TfL), who regulate public service transport in the British capital. One cabbie told the BBC that TfL should not have awarded Uber a license until the legal matter was resolved, asking:

Why did they award them the licence before it went to court, they've done it the wrong way round."

The protest was expected to last about around one hour, and began at 2:00PM BST.

In a move that is only likely to increase tensions, Uber today launched a service in London called UberTaxi. It will allow users to hail and ride in a black cab, using an iPhone app, and pay for the journey using Uber's cashless service. In a blogpost, Uber say that they will charge the same rates for this service as stipulated by TfL.

Uber has become increasingly in popular in London, and the fuss arounds today's protests has only seemed to increase the publicity the company has received in the UK. That publicity is paying off because new users signing up for Uber's service has risen sharply in London, which is exactly what other taxi drivers were hoping to avoid.

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Uber has a way of disrupting traditional taxi services, so it isn't any surprise that London's taxi drivers aren't happy with company's expansion. It's no surprise they're pushing for regulations that help them better compete with Uber.

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Robert Leaman

no mention of the similar protests in other European capitals? (Hint - Berlin and others)

” It’s no surprise they’re pushing for regulations that help them better compete with Uber.”  Uber (and the others) are not conforming to the same set of existent health, safety and other regulations designed to protect us…

And no - I am not a taxi driver, nor related to one

Paul Goodwin

I think the real issue is that the London cabbies have a huge investment in time and money in becoming a licensed cabbie. They had to complete “the Knowledge” training and testing which can take years to complete. Somehow, the regulating body granted Uber the right to operate with drivers that didn’t complete that training and testing, when in fact it is a law. Right or wrong, it was enacted to produce high quality taxi service. The results are that London has likely the highest quality taxi drivers. The Uber side claims the law is antiquated and should be revised. Not too sure about that since it apparently works and finding real quality in anything these days is very hard to do.

I read Uber’s website and it sounded like it would be a good service, equal to anything in the US. However, in London they wanted something better and have it. After 150 years of developing that quality, why go backward?

A good synopses of the issue and some info on the training program “the Knowledge”.

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