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Uber saga continues as black cab drivers prepare for London protest

Sam Shead | May 28, 2015
Today's protest is the latest in a series of strikes from London's black cab drivers.

Black cab drivers are set to stage another protest against Uber and other minicab firms in Central London this afternoon.

Up to 2,500 black cabs are expected to meet in Victoria and cause gridlock outside Transport for London's offices in Victoria as part of an ongoing effort to get the governing body to change its policies.

San Francisco-headquartered Uber has been taking business from licensed taxi drivers since arriving in the UK capital in June 2012.

Minicabs now account for 78,000 of the vehicles in London, with Uber making up about 14,000 of those.

Black cab drivers claim the company is breaking the law because drivers use a smartphone app to work out fares as opposed to a regulated metre. They argue that the background checks on Uber drivers are insufficient and therefore dangerous.

London mayor Boris Johnson is in the process of trying to pass new legislation that will curb the number of private taxis in the city but Uber's UK chief Jo Bertram wants to challenge Johnson on this policy.

"Capping the industry's ability to grow would mean higher prices and less availability for the millions of people who rely on Uber and services like ours to get around," she wrote in a letter seen by the FT.

Bertram also argues that new regulations should "protect people their personal safety and their pockets not hamper new innovations they value and that make their lives easier".

A spokesman for Johnson said: "The mayor is not on an Uber witch hunt...It doesn't matter who the drivers work for. It just doesn't make sense to have such a large number of minicab drivers in the capital.

"We must be able to take action against the threat posed by the massive increase we are seeing in the number of private hire vehicles."

 

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