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