Uber has scrapped the commission fees for London’s black cab drivers in an attempt to show the two can live together peacefully. The company said that it will cut off 5 per cent commission it usually charges taxi drivers to use its service to find potential passengers. However, the stunt has not been received well by other taxi drivers.
The hailing service has received massive backlash from taxi drivers who are afraid of the tight competition. In France, roads were closed and people were forced to walk long distances after taxi drivers came out to protest against new regulations aimed at cracking down on ride-hailing apps in France. The ban came after taxi unions staged nationwide strike, calling for an end to Uber and other non-taxi chauffer services.
The taxi unions forced the Prime Minister to tighten restrictions on the chauffer services and ordered Uber and other apps to stop hiring a certain class of drivers. Stakeholders have taken it to the streets demanding a moratorium on the regulations and the divide between taxi unions and private chauffeur services like Uber to reconcile. In London, Few taxi drivers use the app because of the fee that was imposed on the service. Taxi drivers using Uber paid a 5 per cent fee to the company before the cut off.
“For Londoners it means they can order a traditional black cab at the push of a button and pay electronically through their phone, rather than worrying about cash. And for taxi drivers it’s a chance to get a fare when there are no passengers on the street or they’re waiting in a long queue at a rank,” Uber’s UK head Jo Bertram said.
Bertram added that restrictions on taxi drivers should be lifted by changing The Knowledge and allowing more flexibility on fares. “The answer to the very real pressures faced by black cabs is, surely, to reduce their costs rather than limiting passenger choice by imposing bureaucratic new rules on apps.
“While both black cab and licensed Uber drivers go through exactly the same background checks, taxi drivers have additional hoops they have to jump through. The Knowledge, for instance, is rightly legendary. But it means memorising 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks – a skill that can take up to four years to master. In the age of GPS and live traffic apps, is such an onerous test still needed?”
The London Taxi Drivers Association said it would be “amazed if any drivers decide to take up Uber’s offer”.
“The response is ‘thanks but no thanks’,” the association said.
Thousands of taxi drivers in London are expected to protest outside parliament. The drivers want a leveled playing ground in the taxi industry.