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London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the get-in-the-car dept.

United Kingdom 417

Bruce66423 (1678196) writes in with news about a planned protest by London black-cab drivers against Uber. "London black-cab drivers are planning to cause gridlock in the city to protest against car service Uber. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association complains that Uber's drivers are using a smartphone app to calculate fares despite it being illegal for private vehicles to be fitted with taximeters. Transport for London has declined to intervene, because it disagrees that there has been a breach of the law. LTDA now plans to force the issue by holding the action in early June. 'Transport for London not enforcing the Private Hire Vehicles Act is dangerous for Londoners,' Steve McNamara, LTDA's general secretary, told the BBC. 'I anticipate that the demonstration against TfL's handling of Uber will attract many many thousands of cabs and cause severe chaos, congestion and confusion across the metropolis.'"

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417 comments

Awesome!!! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956335)

Does that mean the entire LBC can be defined as a terror organization and placed in whatever Britain's equivalent of Guantanamo Bay is?

This could be a doubly pointed demonstration: Uber becomes the defacto 'taxi' service of London, and the government shows exactly what will happen if anybody things to provoke demonstrations which might infringe upon the steady operation of infrastructure :)

Re:Awesome!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956407)

If not terror, it could be considered a conspiracy.

Here in the US, there are articles about taxis not bothering to stop, or doing "sewer service"... i.e. saying they responded to a text, charging the person calling them, but in reality never showing up and blaming the customer for the issue.

I'm not shedding any tears for the taxi drivers in the least.

Re:Awesome!!! (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 3 months ago | (#46956455)

Wait, how does a cab charge someone that they did not give a ride to? Are there services where you can pre-pay for a cab ride? Who would be stupid enough to do this? In the US, at least, cab services are so unreliable. I had a scheduled pick up show up 30 mins late, even with me on the phone guiding him to my house the entire time. "Wow I have never been to this neighborhood before." "Wtf, is this your first time in this city as a cab driver?" "No, I have lived here all my life." "wtf wtf wtf".

Re:Awesome!!! (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about 3 months ago | (#46956865)

Are there services where you can pre-pay for a cab ride?

Actually yes. The only one I'm familiar with is the 'free ride home' program. It's not actually free, but you pay a nominal fee(with the rest picked up by various donations) and get a card good for a ride home from the bar. The idea is that you can't spend the card on booze, thus always have a ride home without 'having' to drive.

Other than that, like in a lot of cases if you call ahead of time you can sometimes negotiate a better deal.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46957055)

They don't have navigators? Wtf?

Re:Awesome!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956449)

Booyah!

Never mind our obstructive protest; using Uber is dangerous. The service must be violently stopped.

Who the F gets to live without competition? (3, Insightful)

popo (107611) | about 3 months ago | (#46956869)

What these drivers are asking for is a special privilege to be a superior class of citizen: To be spared any natural competition.

And what they're doing is not protesting. It's throwing a tantrum.

Re: Who the F gets to live without competition? (5, Insightful)

LarhoIm (217789) | about 3 months ago | (#46957009)

You could not be more wrong. What they are doing is saying "we had to spend 3 years of our lives, studying and passed rigorous tests, which are repeated at regular intervals, with background checks and continuous scrutiny from "mystery shoppers", and can be kicked out of we mess up... And Uber thinks it's ok to ignore this and operate outside the framework we are forced to adhere to? Not a chance!"

This (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46957089)

Also, in reality, you want the taxi services to be regulated. I've been to coutries where they are not, and the taxis there range from "you will get cheated" to "you will get raped, killed, and robbed". And that's a fact. No way a foreigner can use the local taxis. You free the business completely, competition will drive the prices low (which is a good thing), but the low prices will force the drivers to cheat, steal, and rob, as the only ones making a profit will be the ones who do. And no, i'm not a taxi driver. I hate having to pay the local super high taxi fares, but on the other hand, the service is first class. They are on time when preordered, the cars are nice and clean and safe. The drivers won't rob you, beat you, cheat you, or anything. They actually know their area, they also have navigators in every car, as well as the taxi centrals help. They are not allowed to refuse a drive because they don't feel like going to a direction where they won't find anyone to come back the other way.

Re:This (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46957105)

Sounds like a libertarian paradise to me. The solution to this of course is more guns!

Re:This (1, Offtopic)

qbast (1265706) | about 3 months ago | (#46957183)

More guns is solution to everything including too many guns.

Re:This (0)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 3 months ago | (#46957167)

Craigslist is unregulated. Why isn't everyone on craigslist cheating, raping, killing and robbing people? I know some people on craigslist are bad apples, but the vast majority are just honest people trying to have a mutually beneficial deal.

I know some cities/countries have cabs that try to cheat you. They also have people on the street trying to cheat you too. I don't think it's the lack of regulation that's the problem. I think it's the fact that some 3rd world countries are so poor that dishonest livings become very tempting, especially when their customers are foreigners with lots of money.

I think uber will do just fine without the regulation. It has the ability to review drivers and riders. I have had nothing but good experiences with uber.

Re: This (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 3 months ago | (#46957195)

You can still get raped and cheated with London taxis.

Unenforceable (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956339)

Yet another Streisand fighting the free market. Thanks for putting me onto Uber.

Buggy whips (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 3 months ago | (#46956343)

These are the sellers of horse feed trying to fight cars not eating oats. Quite simply the day unoccupied driverless cars become a reality this entire job description will be struck from the registry. Driver of car will be right beside shoveler of coal.

We might not see this for a number of years, but what will make me laugh out loud will be when on the eve of driverless cars these same cabbies will inform us that, "People will feel safer and prefer a human cabbie."

As for Uber, the key of any new regulations should not be to protect cabbies, but to protect customers. I suspect that some dark spots with Uber will show up and thus need solving. But one of those dark spots is not the providing of much needed competition in our city's streets.

Re:Buggy whips (1, Interesting)

mx+b (2078162) | about 3 months ago | (#46956361)

I came here to say essentially this -- I do not really see the big deal, even if it is true that people are using fare meter phone apps. So what? As long as both people are happy with the transaction, I don't see the problem. I think there are many times when government and regulations have their place, but this one seems like one that protects certain jobs at the expense of new ones.

Re:Buggy whips (3, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 3 months ago | (#46956661)

The key is that if a cabbie is naughty then he can have his license pulled. At this point it seems that Uber will effectively do the same thing. But if you have been with Ebay a long time they are letting more and more big sellers get really sleazy with all kinds of little things. Maybe Uber will do this or maybe they won't.

This is called regulatory capture when it is the government but as Ebay shows it can happen in the private sector as well. The key difference is that(in theory) we can vote on the politicians who make the rules for cabbies.

Re:Buggy whips (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46957155)

The main difference is that if an ebay seller screws up your order of pogs , nobody dies. If you a going to be carrying passengers, you'd better have a good driving record, a chauffeur's license and a vehicle that receives regular mandated safety inspection.

And no, you can't trust the free market to self regulate. We've had airlines literally delay the installation of fixes to critical safety flaws because downing the jet to make the repairs cost too much time/money and hundreds have died as a result. If left entirely to the free market, the airlines would cut fleet maintenance to the absolute minimum to keeps the airplane in the sky, and if one of them falls from the sky every so often and crashes due to poor maintenance, it would still be cheaper to pay off the victims than to replace parts at the proper intervals.

The libertarians would say the answer to this is to choose an airline with the lowest fatality rate.

Re:Buggy whips (1, Interesting)

ErikTheRed (162431) | about 3 months ago | (#46956389)

Uber has been operating in my city for many years now (we were one of the first to get it) and if there are any dark spots, I sure haven't seen them. You get a clean, polite driver driving a clean, well-maintained car. If for some reason you don't get a clean, polite driver driving a clean, well-maintained car you can give feedback to Uber letting them know this. I would imagine that they axe any problematic drivers fairly quickly, because reports of bad ones are rare and I haven't had any (nor has anyone I know personally). It does cost a bit more than a cab (with a $15 minimum where I live), but it's very quick, friendly, polite, and clean (and in many areas they have a lower-cost UberX option).

The one thing that gets people is that they go to a supply / demand bidding system during ultra-high-demand periods like New Year's Eve. They put warnings all over the place when they do this, but prices can get VERY, VERY high.

Re:Buggy whips (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about 3 months ago | (#46956883)

The one thing that gets people is that they go to a supply / demand bidding system during ultra-high-demand periods like New Year's Eve. They put warnings all over the place when they do this, but prices can get VERY, VERY high.

Might sound strange, but I'm okay with this. Helps limit demand to only the essential. Personally, I prefer the service be available if you're willing to pay the price than for the drivers to decide that they'd rather have new year's off as well combined with insane demand resulting in effectively NO service for most people.

As for the black cabs, I kind of hope that the plan backfires on them as people blame THEM and not Uber for the disruption, thus calling for sanctions/loss of privilege for them, not uber.

Re: Buggy whips (5, Insightful)

LarhoIm (217789) | about 3 months ago | (#46956973)

What you, and your fellow Americans posting here, seem to forget (or perhaps you do not know?) is that with London black cabs, you already get a clean and well maintained car with a professional driver. On top of that, said driver actually knows his way around, as he had to prove this when he was given his license, and continuously have to prove it again when he is tested on a regular basis. The London black cabs are regulated and every single driver have to adhere to standards in order to keep his/her license. Fail to drive the best route somewhere? The person in the back might just be a "mystery shopper" and you could lose your license... The black cabs also have an app (Hailo) which can be used to book, track and pay for your ride using any of your stored cards. This is not a case of cabbies stomping their feet and whining, they just do not take well to Ãoeber bypassing the requirements they have to adhere to.

Re: Buggy whips (-1)

ruir (2709173) | about 3 months ago | (#46957067)

Do you drive a cab? By your rant it seems you do.

Re: Buggy whips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46957185)

there will be a point when some enterprising serial killer uses uber to get people willinging into his car...

Re: Buggy whips (5, Insightful)

LarhoIm (217789) | about 3 months ago | (#46957193)

Apart from when I am a passenger, I have absolutely no connection cab drivers, not in London, not anywhere. I DO live in London and understand the concerns raised by the cabbies.

Re: Buggy whips (1, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | about 3 months ago | (#46957197)

What you, and your fellow Americans posting here, seem to forget (or perhaps you do not know?) is that with London black cabs, you already get a clean and well maintained car with a professional driver. On top of that, said driver actually knows his way around, as he had to prove this when he was given his license, and continuously have to prove it again when he is tested on a regular basis.

In that case, they've got nothing to worry about - their superior service at a competitive cost (I notice you didn't mention that - their prices are competitive, aren't they?) will result in them out-competing Uber's inferior service. Of course, their actions demonstrate that they are afraid - presumably, they're afraid that Uber will give consumers the choice to pay less, even if it means the car's a bit dirtier, and the driver a bit more ignorant. After all, the consumers can't actually be allowed any choice - it means they might not choose the right thing, designated as such by their betters.

Re: Buggy whips (3, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 3 months ago | (#46957207)

I don't live in London, but I have been there (and elsewhere in the UK) many times. Yes, the ubiquitous black cab is nice, and the drivers are competent. The question really is this: Should the government prohibit consumers from paying someone else for a ride?

As long as the customer understands that they are basically hitching a ride with an unknown private person, I just don't see the problem. If I want the assurance of a black cab, I'll flag one down. If I don't care, then I don't care - it's really not much different from sticking my thumb out and hitching a ride, except I have some assurance that someone will actually stop and pick me up.

Re:Buggy whips (1, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | about 3 months ago | (#46956469)

The government could of course get them used to idea and allow them to economically adapt by auctioning off cab license on say a three year term with strictly one licence per bidder and the bidder (a person, an actual human being) must prove themselves capable of operating a cab. The number of licences defined by the lowest bid achieving a minimum defined value a portion of which should be returned upon successful completion of the cab licence period so that a skilled and well behaved cabbie can use it for the next licence auction. This is using licences to provide a quality service to the public, rather than using licences to create an employment monopoly to inflate charges and cut wages, serving greedy lazy middle person psychopaths rather than serving the public.

Re:Buggy whips (4, Informative)

Imrik (148191) | about 3 months ago | (#46957221)

London is one of the few places where having a cab license actually means something. They have to take strict tests to prove they know the streets of London, both to get their license and to keep it. They also have to provide a certain level of service and take good routes or they could get it pulled if their fare turns out to be an inspector.

Re:Buggy whips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956495)

Or maybe, considering the thousands of lives lost due to automobiles and the fossil fuel economy, we not automatically decide to rush blindly into the future.

Heck, maybe if we'd just held off on the leaded gasoline, we'd be a bit further ahead.

It's about power, not being a customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956529)

> any new regulations should not be to protect cabbies, but to protect customers

Nope. Regulations should be to protect the powerless. In this case, the powerless are the individual customer and the individual driver. Both should be protected from Uber.

Re:It's about power, not being a customer (1)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | about 3 months ago | (#46956635)

It's generally the powerful who get to write the regulations you're so fond of.

That's why we have in powerful taxi companies who "own" a government granted medallion pissed off that there might be some new competition for customer's transport dollars by independent drivers and their previously lobbied regulations aren't stopping it.

No customer needs to be "protected" from Uber, a service they are free to choose to use or not use based on their own evaluation of if it fits their needs better or not. All Uber does is allow independent drivers to have the same type of dispatch infrastructure that the big taxi companies have, but more efficiently.

Re:It's about power, not being a customer (3, Interesting)

JDAustin (468180) | about 3 months ago | (#46956691)

In NYC, that medallion will cost you over $1million. Figuring that there are only 10-20% more medallions now (~13,500) in NYC then in the 1930s, you can see that supply has artificially been restricted.

Re:It's about power, not being a customer (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 3 months ago | (#46956697)

Yup. You are one hundred percent correct. But this is not a cab problem but something fundamentally wrong with present day implementations of democracy. I can say with absolute certainty that in my area that any decisions made by government that have a large corporate or wealth family interest then the government will act to in the rich family's/corporation's interest. The only time the government acts in some form of public interest is when there is effectively no monied interest.

Personally I think this why in the US abortion is such a big issue. It is largely an issue that has no monied interest (beyond the interest groups themselves) so politicians are off the leash on that issue. But look at the morning after pill. There was a monied interest behind that abortion related aspect so whoosh it was approved in 2 seconds. I am not saying that it is good or bad, just that normally anything involving abortion is normally full on trench warfare.

So in this particular case it will be interesting to watch the fairly well monied Uber fighting with the zillion somewhat less monied cab companies.

This debate is not happening because the politicians said, "Hey look the voters are pissed off with crappy and overpriced transport." They are having this debate because they were told to.

Our interests will not be part of the equation in any way at all.

Re: It's about power, not being a customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956807)

Your interests will not be reflect because you are in the US, not London, England. RTFA.

Re:It's about power, not being a customer (5, Informative)

locofungus (179280) | about 3 months ago | (#46957149)

So in this particular case it will be interesting to watch the fairly well monied Uber fighting with the zillion somewhat less monied cab companies.

They're not fighting the cab companies. They're fighting the black cab drivers.

London has a peculiar system. There are black cabs - which can be hailed on the street, within certain limits they are obliged to take you to your destination (so if they're waiting at a major station hoping for a lucrative fare and you want to go around the corner, they have to take you and lose their place in the queue at the station), and the fare is calculated by an installed meter and is relative to time and distance travelled. (There is a minimum fare)

Private hire cars must be pre-booked (the booking only has to be a few minutes in advance - typically you ring up the office and then they send the nearest car to pick you up), and they're under no obligation at all to take you when you call when they hear where you want to go.

Uber uses a metering system linked to an app. Black cabs are the only taxis allowed to have a meter fitted. TfL (Transport for London) have said they don't consider the app to be "fitted" and therefore the law banning other cars from having a meter fitted doesn't apply.

Black cabs also have to pass a rather impressive test. Within the area they're obliged to carry passengers, they're required to show they know every street, landmark etc. (Apparently, when they're examined, a favourite trick of the examiners is to ask them to do a journey where roadworks have temporarily closed the "usual" way and the drivers are expected to know about it and not just "follow the diversion" but take the best route knowing in advance that there are roadworks.)

Re:Buggy whips (1, Insightful)

BKDotCom (542787) | about 3 months ago | (#46956581)

Well said.
Likewise why are there laws protecting auto dealerships and preventing automakers from selling direct to the consumer?
Regulations & laws should protect consumers, not a business model.

Re:Buggy whips (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 3 months ago | (#46956715)

And when you start buying 3 pages of ads in the local newspaper every day, 2 hours of commercials on every local TV station, 2 hours of radio commercials daily, and spread a few hundred grand in political donations then the politicians might take your call. Until then your only choice will be to pick a candidate from one of a few entrenched parties that have already made a zillion backroom deals that didn't include your desires.

About the only time a politician will listen to you is when he is making a list of empty election time promises.

Re:Buggy whips (4, Insightful)

gijoel (628142) | about 3 months ago | (#46956727)

Dude, considering the number of times GPS units send people driving into the ocean, or down a train tunnel, I think it's going to be a while before robotic cars are going to be safer than humans.

I really don't see how Uber are going to be protecting customers. Do they require background/criminal/driving history checks on their drivers? Do they require require vehicle inspections to determine how safe your car is? There a plethora of other requirements that I can't think of that I know have been address on other threads.

Re:Buggy whips (1)

ah.clem (147626) | about 3 months ago | (#46956909)

Do they require background/criminal/driving history checks on their drivers? Do they require require vehicle inspections to determine how safe your car is? There a plethora of other requirements that I can't think of that I know have been address on other threads.

I suspect that you have never gotten a hack license, worked as a cabbie or take cabs very often. I drove a cab for a short time while in college, leaving after one of the drivers I worked with was killed for pocket change. In the world of cab monopolies, money seems to go a long way. But that's how it's done in America. Money always talks and smooths the path; to believe otherwise (or even, in my opinion, believe what the money folks tell you) is a bit naive. But that's just my experience, yours might be different.

Re:Buggy whips (1)

JosKarith (757063) | about 3 months ago | (#46957191)

The company has the drivers name and address. If there are any issues with the driver they won't get away with it.

Re:Buggy whips (1)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 3 months ago | (#46956799)

FYI, this is fundamentally to protect customers. For example, this [thelocal.fr] and this [thelocal.fr] were recently reported as occurring in Paris by illegals cabbies.

Illegal cabbies aren't the only ones... (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about 3 months ago | (#46956913)

It's not like being a legal taxi driver prevents you from being a murderer [wikipedia.org] . Or even just charging illegal fees [www.cbc.ca] .

I'm sure that most illegal cabbies are just trying to make a living. The best solution is probably to end the protectionist rackets that limit the numbers of legal taxis.

Re:Buggy whips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956847)

I believe that workers should also be protected by the laws, not only customers. The coalworkers got paid when they whenever they where on the train, not only when they needed to shovel coal. The "standby time".
Uber does not pay its workers when they stand still.

What would you say if a hamburger restaurant only paid it workers when they flip the burger but not when they wait for the burger to cook? Is it that kind of society you want to live in?

Would it be ok for a store employee not getting paid while they walk to the shelf they are restocking?

I don't think it is ok for companies to use people in that way.

Re:Buggy whips (1)

cardpuncher (713057) | about 3 months ago | (#46956969)

Actually, up until 1976 it was a legal requirement for taxi drivers to carry hay in case their horses got a bit peckish. It's an area in which regulations seem to change very slowly.

There's been a (decades-) long ongoing war between black-cab taxis (which you can hail on the street) and minicabs (private cars you book by phone) and this is merely another phase of that battle.

There is a genuine issue of ensuring standards (for example, disabled accessibility to vehicles), but these are things taxi drivers have historically resisted themselves. As taxi drivers tend to be one man bands in London their earnings are also somewhat opaque and I'm sure they're not only concerned about competition, but also about a growing expectation that your journey can be recorded by a third party llike Uber whose records might be available to the tax authorities.

Fuck 'em. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956349)

If you don't like it, write a letter. If you're going to cause an obstruction, I hope "the fuzz" descends on you like a ton of bricks.

Re:Fuck 'em. (5, Funny)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 3 months ago | (#46956357)

This is England. They'll be sentenced to funny walks and an ASBO.

Don't call them that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956381)

If kids have to learn "Baa, Baa, Rainbow Sheep" in school now then you sure as hell can't be calling them Black Cabs!

Re:Don't call them that (2)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 months ago | (#46956967)

If kids have to learn "Baa, Baa, Rainbow Sheep" in school now

They don't. The whole story was completely misrepresented by a hysterical media. The lesson was simply to teach adjectives and illustrate that you can have a black sheep, a happy sheep a pink sheep or even a rainbow sheep.

Re:Don't call them that (2, Funny)

mjwx (966435) | about 3 months ago | (#46957119)

If kids have to learn "Baa, Baa, Rainbow Sheep" in school now

They don't. The whole story was completely misrepresented by a hysterical media. The lesson was simply to teach adjectives and illustrate that you can have a black sheep, a happy sheep a pink sheep or even a rainbow sheep.

And thats their problem.

The conservatives dont want an educated workforce, they want unthinking proles who aren't smart enough to rise up against their masters.

If we start teaching them adjectives, then they'll learn adverbs. interjections, prepositions and before you know it, those slovenly Midlanders and lazy Yorkies know enough to say they have rights and cant be exploited in 16 hour days for minimal pay. Some of them will actually understand Industrial Relations laws, this cannot be allowed to pass.

It's a good think Murdoch and the Daily Mail are here to save us from this horror.

Uber drivers should yell the same thing... (1)

Rick in China (2934527) | about 3 months ago | (#46956391)

"We're going to cause gridlock preventing traffic for Black Cabs, on the same day!" Just to fuck with them. Everyone providing gridlock for everybody else, saying "Muahaha! We got 'em!" meanwhile everyone is contently stuck in gridlock. Clownshoes for all!

Getting home from the chaos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956435)

So taxi drivers are planning to cause chaos and congestion in protest against Uber. So when you want to get home that afternoon, you won't be able to find a taxi. So you'll use . . . . . .Uber!

Re:Getting home from the chaos (1)

Rick in China (2934527) | about 3 months ago | (#46956457)

I think the whole point is by creating congestion, Uber also will be unable to effectively transport people. They're basically saying "if I can't have it nobody can" and stamping their feet.

Re:Getting home from the chaos (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#46956483)

By creating such congestion, *NOBODY* will be able to transport people... even those who have nothing to do with Uber.

Also, this would interfere with emergency vehicles and public transportation as well.

I'm quite sure that they could face serious fines if they actually implement this... up to and including losing their license to operate as a business if they continue.

Re:Getting home from the chaos (0)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 months ago | (#46956835)

They should face criminal charges for even suggesting it. They shouldn't be allowed to openly discuss committing crimes of this nature.

It's a danger, all right... (0)

Nova Express (100383) | about 3 months ago | (#46956399)

A danger to their profits.

Just another government-sanctioned monopoly seeing their monopoly profits destroyed by a free market that treats them as damage to route around...

Re:It's a danger, all right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956451)

Your dogs are adorable. You should get more of them.

Re:It's a danger, all right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956487)

I've been in one car crash in my life and was lucky to get away with a couple of bruises and mild whiplash. The driver of the big black car I was in had jumped a red light, presumably in an attempt to increase his productivity because I certainly hadn't told him to hurry.
So they'll excuse me if I'm not very convinced about the safety argument.

Re: It's a danger, all right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956937)

The LTDA doesn't run the taxis, it's more like a union/lobby group. Anybody could get a taxi license if they met the requirements (which are quite high in London) and stuck to the rules (not arbitrarily refusing to do particular journeys etc.).

It's hardly a monopoly!

Reckless Endangerment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956401)

Wouldn't deliberatly causing gridlock in their tantrum be reckless endangerment or manslaughter or whatever the precise british equivalent due to obstructing emergancy services?

Re:Reckless Endangerment? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#46956545)

This is what I was thinking as well... I can see people who conspire to do this losing their license if they are caught. Shouldn't be too difficult since they've actually admitted they are intending on doing it publicly.

They could have made their own (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956437)

If they had any sense, Taxi companies would have made a good smartphone app solution happen instead of being butthurt when someone else does it tighten their business model.

Oh look, more Uber (0, Troll)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 3 months ago | (#46956499)

Don't you just love how they present it without bothering to tell us what Uber is, as if we're already supposed to know and/or care?

Re: Oh look, more Uber (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956599)

Uber been in the headlines 2 dozens times this year alone over various cities being restrictive . Been under a rock?

Re: Oh look, more Uber (3, Insightful)

Cederic (9623) | about 3 months ago | (#46956681)

Yes, apparently I have. I read an article yesterday about it and this one today and that's all I've really heard about it.

It's a stupid name, and I couldn't really give a fuck about it. It's sure as shit not ubiquitous - just two cities in the whole country? Fuck that.

Sure, it's disrupting traditional business models, falling foul (or not) of various vehicle licensing regulations, accessed via a mobile phone application. It's still a niche product used by a few people, so don't go acting all fucking surprised that people haven't heard of it. Shit, it's not even available in the second most populous city in the UK or the largest city in Europe. Hardly fucking everywhere is it.

Re:Oh look, more Uber (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#46956705)

It's the new bitcoin. Annoying stories about it appear just as you were about to forget the last one.

Breaking News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956531)

Tow truck drivers see a 1000% increase in business from towing said taxis blocking traffic and illegal parking.

business licensing is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956591)

its no different than any other organized crime operation, someone tries to make a living without giving you your cut you send your goons to lean on them

in the case of business licensing the first level goons are petty bureaucrats who send threatening letters, and if those don't work they send the heavies who carry badges as a sign of their "legitimate" authority

Customers are not property. (0, Flamebait)

jcr (53032) | about 3 months ago | (#46956603)

If you can't attract enough customers to stay in business without getting the government to ban your competition, then fuck you: you should be out of business.

-jcr

Re:Customers are not property. (5, Insightful)

Imagix (695350) | about 3 months ago | (#46956647)

Not really... the cabs are being artificially hamstrung by regulation that was put into place precisely because private people were doing bad things and thus government was lobbied/decided upon that regulation was required in order to protect public safety. So now there are a bunch of cabs which are following said regulations (likely at a pretty significant cost), and now this other organization is setting up a de facto cab company, but doesn't have to follow the regulation. Now... if the cab companies no longer had to follow the regulations and _still_ couldn't compete with Uber, then so be it. But as it is now you're comparing the performance of two race horses, but one of them has its legs tied together.

Re:Customers are not property. (1)

mrbester (200927) | about 3 months ago | (#46956701)

I doubt that any Uber driver has to have done The Knowledge before being fully registered, so this is just another private mini cab service. Whilst there is a bit more self-regulation in that you actually have some means of complaining about a particular driver (whereas before you had nothing, even if assaulted) being driven around London by someone relying on satnav rather than the superior Knowledge is prone to difficulties.

Re:Customers are not property. (1)

serbanp (139486) | about 3 months ago | (#46956719)

Finally an insightful comment! As opposed to the plethora of idiotic "buggy whip" vanilla bs.

Re:Customers are not property. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956779)

Yes, I expect better from jcr, who is usually more insightful. The level of discourse on this site has suffered dramaticly all around. It would be nice if we could get past the memery of "buggy whips" and tired business models and get more to the point. Is regulation necessary? Is Uber essentially like a drug manufacturer, throwing caution to the wind with standard purity and best practice regulations to the possible detriment of someone's health? Or are they more like a lemonade stand, that has neglected to get their business license? Or is it more like an unnecessary restriction to only one way of doing things, such as laws requiring dealerships with showrooms for automobiles and disallowing directsales?
More to the point of the article, if you were a cabbie, what action would you take to correct the situation? What words of conviction would you share with your fellow cabbies? Because, clearly the current situation is untenable, and the only way it can be fixed, is by discussing the things that actually matter.
Or did you guys come on to the internet just to blow a bunch of hot air?

Re:Customers are not property. (0)

Henrique Vicente (3640899) | about 3 months ago | (#46956889)

Except you're being naive in thinking this monopoly was set for the benefit of consumers. Nope. Don't be so silly. This monopoly exists not because "bad things happened" (how stupid that sounds!), but because bad people uses the government to grant a monopoly for them to explore other people. Start using your brain.

Re:Customers are not property. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956927)

It's always nice to see that even in /. there's always at least one person somewhere behind the yelling mob who understands the complexities of these "simple" issues.

Re:Customers are not property. (5, Insightful)

Cederic (9623) | about 3 months ago | (#46956709)

Becoming a black cab driver in London isn't as easy as buying a car, and that's for several reasons:
- London's fucking big and fucking complicated. Having a satnav isn't necessarily enough to know where to take people, or especially how to get there efficiently
- Black cabs are a part of London's reputation, attraction and transport infrastructure. There's an implicit level of quality and reliability that the licensing is intended to create
- There are too many vehicles in London already, and black cabs get priority on many streets. For this reason black cab numbers are controlled
- Taxi drivers gain personal access to individuals that may be in a vulnerable state. Solo ladies, young people, drunk people

Does that make Uber wrong? Not necessarily. It may be cheaper, it may be easier, it may offer a broader range of potential vehicles.

It also adds traffic to roads not designed to cater for it - the transport system in London is geared around a certain level of private traffic and a certain level of black cab activity, and Uber shifts that relationship.

So no, customers are not property. This situation is also not as straightforward as you're trying to suggest.

Re:Customers are not property. (3, Interesting)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 3 months ago | (#46956753)

hardly a fair comparison.The argument here is actually quite valid, Black Cabs and cab drivers have significant government license, knowledge and regulations imposed on them which are quite expensive I understand. If Uber are bypassing those requirements then they are operating at a considerable cost advantage that no matter how good Black Cabs operate will not be able to compete price wise. I am not from the UK but having travelled to London I do find it rather nice getting in a Black Cab and actually having a driver that knows where he is going. When travelling to the US I have gotten in Cabs in Seattle and San Fran where I have had to give the driver directions from the Airport to major hotels.

Re:Customers are not property. (1)

dkf (304284) | about 3 months ago | (#46957209)

The argument here is actually quite valid, Black Cabs and cab drivers have significant government license, knowledge and regulations imposed on them which are quite expensive I understand.

It sounds to me like Uber are yet another minicab (i.e., "private hire") business. There are quite a number of other such firms already operating in the UK, including within London, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of them didn't already use websites and apps to allow a customer to arrange a transaction. Heck, I know of at least one firm that allows booking via website (even if that's just something you do a few minutes ahead) and an app is just a logical extension of that.

What makes Uber different other than some marketing bumf?

Brilliant move... (1)

American Patent Guy (653432) | about 3 months ago | (#46956665)

If people can't get a cab, they'll find another mode of transportation. That's not the smartest form of marketing ... but then I guess we're talking about cab drivers, after all.

Re:Brilliant move... (5, Insightful)

mrbester (200927) | about 3 months ago | (#46956731)

We're not talking about satnav reliant random people with a car: Every black cab driver has to pass The Knowledge, comprising a comprehensive map of London and ability to calculate the most efficient route depending on roadworks / time of day / year *in their heads*. This takes years to master and is possibly the most difficult memory and spatial relationship exercise in the world. I doubt you could do it.

Re:Brilliant move... (1)

American Patent Guy (653432) | about 3 months ago | (#46956797)

Then I'm sure they'll all be very good at finding the fastest road to bankruptcy...

In comparison, many forms of wildlife to the very same thing ... except that when conditions change, wildlife adapts.

Re: Brilliant move.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956825)

And then there is waze ...

When it settles (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956673)

My problem with Uber is that they don't pay its cabdrivers when they dont have any customer. If a cab driver get sick she or he will not get paid. Right now there are two few drivers for the market but when everything settles (more Uber-like companies) most taxi drivers will not get payd work thier hours they put in. Uber will still make money since it does not cost much extra to have 1000 cars or 10000 cars. But when there are two many cars for the market workers will suffer greatly.

Re:When it settles (1)

torsmo (1301691) | about 3 months ago | (#46956811)

Two more or two fewer cars are at the root of all problems. Therefore, there should never be two cars.

This could lead to an horrific crisis! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956695)

How will the people there get to their dental appointments?

a UK view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956737)

A lot of US comments on here shouting "free market" (because they have apparently given up on society), with little understanding of the UK context. London has long had problems with violent crimes around unlicensed taxis, including rape. Licensed cabs have to meet expensive criteria, checking, and pay to be licensed, in return the law prohibits unlicensed private car metering. Understand why the licensed taxi drivers feel short changed now?
Also - how does submitting bad feedback on a website prevent rape in unlicensed car hire? (A suggestion from another poster here).
If the licensing authority is not pursuing the law, and metering in private cars is illegal in London for good reason, yes the black cabs should strike.

Re:a UK view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956793)

London has long had problems with violent crimes around unlicensed taxis, including rape.

Well, those are black cabs.

Protest over self drive taxis next (1)

andy_spoo (2653245) | about 3 months ago | (#46956767)

If they're worried about loosing jobs to an app, wait until they see the self drive taxis that are coming. Taxis are so expensive in London, they deserve to get competition.

Re:Protest over self drive taxis next (5, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | about 3 months ago | (#46956899)

They're expensive because they're worth it. Each black cab driver has passed an extensive testing process which demonstrates their intimate knowledge of the streets of London, being able to navigate through the maze of streets, using routes depending on traffic levels, construction, detours, etc. You can climb in to the back of a black cab, drunkenly mumble your address (or as much of it as you can remember) and the black cab will whisk you home. The black cabs themselves are designed for London streets - their acceleration, turning circles, and number of people they can carry are all optimised for London. They are tightly regulated, and it works - they are demonstrably the best taxi service in the entire world. They already have competition, and it pales in comparison to the professionalism of the fleet as a whole.

Benefits of Uber (1, Interesting)

jklappenbach (824031) | about 3 months ago | (#46956813)

- Both driver and rider can view each other's history / ratings. If a rider doesn't like the driver, they can choose a different car.
- Both driver and rider can see each other's location, in real time, up to the point of pickup.
- Both driver and rider can contact each other either by phone or SMS (I've moved location, I've forgotten a bag / phone, I can't find you).
- Both driver and rider can rate each other after the experience.
- No need for carrying cash, or dealing with post drive transactions -- just hop out, it's all handled.
- Several levels of quality, ranging from eco, black car, and suburban / limo.

Uber provides a safer experience for both driver and rider, with accountability and communication.
If you've never ridden Uber (or similar), it's a vastly superior experience to old fashioned cabs.

When you've been disrupted like this, it's either evolution or extinction.

Re:Benefits of Uber (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 3 months ago | (#46956903)

I LOVE the idea of Uber, especially if its possible to specify when you make the request what size vehicle you want (e.g. "I want a big car because I have 4 suitcases to carry")

Heck, someone should invent "Uber with UTEs/vans", it would be great for being able to pick up furniture or large items in cases where its not possible to have it home delivered (or where home delivery is expensive/would not be able to happen for ages) and where it wont fit in your normal car.

Re: Benefits of Uber (5, Insightful)

LarhoIm (217789) | about 3 months ago | (#46956935)

It is very clear that you have never set foot in a black cab in London. Not only do the drivers have to pass extensive (and expensive) training and testing, they are also vetted and held to a very high standard in order to obtain and keep their licenses. They KNOW London and how to get around, to a level which I have yet to see any GPS device/app (including Waze) compete with. Requirements Uber are completely bypassing, with the result being an unfair advantage. Black cabs already have an app, with which you can check availability (location of cabs near you on a map), book a cab (with information about the driver) and pay for the ride using any of your stored cards. It's called "Hailo" and I have used it on many occasions. Personally, I would always pick a black cab in London, over some random guy who signed up for using an app with a GPS device.

Ehm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46957217)

Around here the taxi driver won't refuse me a drive simply because he/she doesn't like me. I have no idea why I wouldn't like some driver, as they are all professionals, know where they are going, won't try to cheat you in any way.

I tell them where I am, they find me. If I move I can call again and tell I've moved. If they can't find me I'd have to be basically hiding on purpose, or tel lthem the wrong address.

Why would a driver need to rate me? I don't even want to be rated. All drivers are 4 or 5 star one. Only difference being how much they talk during the trip. The actual service I'm buyin is always 5 star. They know their way around, take the shortest path, try to hurry up a bit is asked, charge according to the tariffs.

Ok, I do need to have cash with me, or some credit/debit card. Or a phone NFC wallet. It's usually not a problem, as I have them with me anyways.

I can ask for a specific type of car when I call a taxi, they'll send one. They do not have limos / suburbans. But nice a nice mercedes or a minivan that can take 8 passengers is available. If I want a limo I call a limo service.

I've never driven Uber, but sounds like the cabs around where you live differ a lot from the ones we have around here. Maybe that's why we don't have Uber here.

Fix your business model or gfy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956817)

If the cab companies had their way it would be illegal to drive yourself in the city..

Re:Fix your business model or gfy! (1)

williamhb (758070) | about 3 months ago | (#46956897)

If the cab companies had their way it would be illegal to drive yourself in the city..

It's not illegal, but you do have to pay £10 per day to do so [tfl.gov.uk] .

The Easy Solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956861)

Have all Uber drivers get a London Cab license and have them take the exam. Then you can have uber-blackcabs.

Meanwhile, in soviet finland.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956963)

it's illegal to make an arrangement with your coworkers so that one of you drives the others to work and you split the costs, because that's an "illegal taxi operation".

Re:Meanwhile, in soviet finland.. (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 3 months ago | (#46957087)

Well then, if money doesnt change hands, and each alternate week someone brings his car, is it an illegal taxi operation too?

Old business models (1)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about 3 months ago | (#46956971)


Innovate or die.

As usual the established trade is resisting any changes to the model. Why don't they take this moment & implement their own competing system & instead of owning cabs own an app?

But but but this is our lively-hood they tell you, think of the children! -no one said driving a car & knowing London's roads will land you a lifetime job.

We know this all too well, they will used their position and established financial base to throw an army of litigation at it and maybe they'll shut the app down but this is the beginning of the end because it's an eventuality.

So many people drive a 4 seat, 5 passenger vehicle with only themselves or perhaps another person with them. Why not use that?

London Cabbies are different (5, Insightful)

thesandbender (911391) | about 3 months ago | (#46957125)

I'm a New Yorker who makes frequent use of the yellow cabs here and has had the pleasure of using London cabs.

In NYC, it's basically the taxi's the are licensed. Any yellow cab has to have a medallion [wikipedia.org] and they are expensive... often going for $750k+ USD. Once you have the medallion you can lease/rent it to just about any hack who qualifies for a drivers license.

In London, it's the drivers that are heavily regulated. The tests are notoriously hard and London cabbies either have or acquire neurology that is much more spatially oriented than normal [wired.com] .

The difference may be subtle to most people but it's important. When you get in a cab in NYC, you usually need to be explicit about the route that should be taken. Nefarious types will often take you through Times Square, Union Square, Canal Street or other traffic nightmares to run up the tab. London cabbies pride themselves (at least in my experience) on on knowing every last back road that will get you there that much faster.

So I see their point. They're a group of professionals.... who act like professionals. They've put a lot of time and effort into becoming such, I'd want to protect my turf as well.

London traffic is already so bad (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about 3 months ago | (#46957213)

I doubt anyone will notice.
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