Image: Unsplash - JJ Ying

Getting rid of Uber means the black cab monopoly wins again

I see Uber as more than just a taxi app which lets us get around. From a student’s perspective, it is yet another innovation that has increasingly come to define our generation. It’s even coined the term ‘uberization’ – combining modern technology with radically transform a traditional industry such as taxicabs.

Young people are intimately linked to technology. When we want a delivery pizza, we don’t call up Pizza Hut on our landlines, we go on Deliveroo and expect our food within the hour. When we want to hear the new Dizzie Rascal album we don’t walk into HMV, we press a button on Spotify.

In a world where we face economic problems that our parents never did, such as ridiculous house price to earnings ratios, and stagnating real wages, the march of technology has improved our lives more than we care to realise. That’s why I was so disheartened to hear of Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to revoke Uber’s license, citing problems with Uber’s safety mechanisms and recruitment processes.

TfL’s decision was motivated by a quasi-socialist driven dislike of Uber

TfL’s official, and I stress, official reasons for revoking the license do have some merit. Uber drivers have been embroiled in various scandals in the last year, and vetting processes could be tightened. Whilst this does not warrant a ban, it certainly does warrant a serious look at how Uber operates in London. But do not be fooled by these reasons. TfL’s decision was motivated by a quasi-socialist driven dislike of Uber, rather than any of these stated issues with the firm and its operating practices. Such grievances would predicate reform of business structures, and not an outright ban.

Unfortunately it is the left’s belief that Uber drivers are providing unfair competition against black taxi drivers, that is the real reason for the ban. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is even on record saying that he regretted TfL’s decision to give Uber a license in the first place. Now that it has been revoked, he and his political associates say that fairness can be restored to the taxi market. This example of socialist driven protectionism is often given the veneer of being good for workers against the forces of global capitalism. In this case, black taxi drivers have been safeguarded at the expense of the evil, faceless Uber. Rejoice comrades!

However as in every example of protectionism, this is not the case, and Uber’s example is an unusually clear instance of this. It is always the consumers and other workers that face the negative repercussions of such political decisions. If the ban goes through, approximately 40,000 Uber drivers will lose their jobs. 40,000 people, let that just sink in for a minute. That’s 40,000 fewer people bringing home a wage for their families and facing intense financial strain. Because black taxi drivers have an organised union-like voice, they are heard over the less powerful and numerous Uber drivers.

But as usual, socialists and TfL don’t give a toss about this, provided the loud and powerful black taxi drivers get their way

The consumer will also feel the financial cost of this, and as young people make up a disproportionally large chunk of Uber’s clientele, it will be us who pay for this. Just think for a minute when was the last time you took a black cab in London over an Uber? The answer is probably a very long time ago – and frankly why would you? You’d have to be a very well off student to choose a service that costs more than twice as much as an Uber to get you from A to B. It’s simple economics which leftists seem to dislike and ignore. Put simply, if the ban goes through, getting around in London will become a lot more expensive for you.

But as usual, socialists and TfL don’t give a toss about this, provided the loud and powerful black taxi drivers get their way. It’s their small gain for the loss of the general consumer, and more importantly the livelihood of Uber drivers.

So much for acting in the interests of ‘the many, and not the few.’

Comments (30)

  • Factless article written by someone with absolutely no knowledge of the industry. Monopoly ?. 24,000 Taxi 135,000 minicab. Back to school Rhal

  • Utter, utter drivel. I have hardly read such nonsense in such concentration.

  • Janet cleaves

    Lazy journalism – if you did your research you would realise that user’s 40000 drivers are a myth – thus is the 40000 drivers they are busily trying to out out of business by utilising self driving cars .But leave that aside – uber drivers are free to work on any pH platform that will have them and surely 25000 black cab drivers plus the thousands of ancillary workers in both black can and pH trades also deserve some thought. But no all that matters to you is that your ride home us cheap –

  • richard blake

    Embarrassing rubbish absolutely zero research thinking with your pockets not your mind..

  • Dear Sir,
    Your ignorance is astounding. Others have put your “article” in its place far more eloquently than I could. Please do your research next time. You obviously have a voice but you also have a responsibility to speak the truth or are you on Uber’s payroll too? As previously stated, how can 24,000 sole traders competing against each other hold a monopoly? You may think you are smart, but this piece really doesn’t show that. Ignorance is bliss isn’t it?

  • His a Uber twitter troll wouldn’t take much notice of him

  • Well repiled Perry. This article has been constructed on a shear biased opinion.
    These drivers wont be out of jobs and the so called ‘cheap’ prices are being subsidised so in a year or 2 they will double to pretty much the same price of a blck cab. WHY WOULD YOU PAY A SAN FRANCISCO COMPANY THAT PAYS NO TAX/VAT IN THIS COUNTRY CLEVERLY TAKING ALL THEIR PROFITS TO AN OFFSHORE ACCOUNT WHILST DRIVERS ARE ON LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE AND ON BENEFITS.

  • Joe Fernandes

    Real issue here is that our young people like you are being seriously radicalised by the big corporates to favour their cause. Its like giving children sweets! the corporates will want a payback!!grow up, there is NO FREE LUNCH and the black cab trade is 25,000 small individual businesses therefore hardly a monopoly. You can become a black cab driver if you want. Ultimately, uber’s business model is resulting in huge numbers of more cars on our streets causing gridlock and pollution which is killing londoner’s and stunting growth of children lungs. This is fact. We need an excellent public transport which people have deserted for the CURRENT cheap prices of uber (Will 100% increase in future to pay off their staggering debt) AND a premium taxi service totally regulated for your safety. Did I mention that black taxis are 100% wheel chair acceptable and have other systems for their less disabled in society which puts up the costs of the vehicle double to that of a prius to look after the venerable in society? I could go on but Ill finish with Grow up!

  • Gary Lawrence

    Uber contribute next to nothing in tax to the UK. They send their profits off to the Netherlands where they pay no tax. So when you can’t get a doctors appointment or a school place you are contributing to that problem by helping Uber & their tax avoidance. As for the so-called 40k drivers being put out of work. What about the 25k black cab drivers that Uber are trying to put out of business. As well as Addison Lee and every mini-cab office in the country. Uber’s ultimate aim is to have fully automated cars and when they do will they care about the 40k drivers they’ll be putting out of work. I think we all know the answer to that! That article you’ve written is an absolute disgrace

  • Gordon Mowatt

    We haven’t had a monopoly for 50+ years you moron

  • A lot of libel in those words care to put names and dates to prove it’s not utter garbage your talking,

  • Knowledge of London

    More drivel from the people who cannot accept that the only people who are to blame for Ubers demise, is Uber.

    Loss of jobs = nonsense
    2500 holders of private hire operators license who actively recruit drivers. Uber are currently in court appealing a “workers rights” decision that went against them. That is how ridiculous this argument is.

    Powerful taxi lobby? All they want is a level playing field. If Uber want to ply for hire, they can do the knowledge and buy a £50,000 vehicle with wheelchair accessibility too.

    Close to 100,000,000 journeys a year states that the London taxi is popular amongst all sorts of people.

    I can only imagine that students will only do what’s cheapest, whatever the moral and safety implications are, as clearly stated by this authors ignorance to the real issues here.

    The reality is there is too much political pressure for this to be seen through. Uber will get their license. They know they can’t afford to let it get to court.

    Whatever happens though, a huge and well deserved victory for the licensed taxi and decent private hire industry, who have been fighting to expose this blatant disregard for regulations that the rest of the industry lives and dies by.

  • regardless of the merits of the argument, this article is embarrassingly edited and the editor who let ‘Rejoice comrades!’ through should be ashamed.

  • Anthony Walters

    The Reason Tfl Revoked uber license is because they are not reporting criminal activities like rape guns found in vehicles
    And other criminal acts they are not properly criminally checked cheapness should not cloud peoples safety.

  • Stephen George

    40,000 Uber drivers are self-employed PHV drivers who are at liberty to work with any of the 2,400 minicab offices in the London area. There, they will earn more than the pittance they do currently, just so you can have a cheap ride home. If you can’t afford a cab, get a bus like I did as a student.
    There is no black cab monopoly, they have competed fairly with minicabs for half a century.
    Btw I’m not a taxi driver

  • So, Khalid, you hope Uber will continue to win at destroying lives and industries so that you can get everything on the cheap, no matter the ultimate cost? When did you murder your conscience?

  • Rhal Ssan,

    Literally everything Perry stated is true (and that’s only the tip of the iceberg – the one Uber rams into the drivers and market and the same one that will invariably tank Uber’s titanic ego).

    Young people like yourself only care about spending as little as possible on things that are actually important so you can blow most of your earnings on frivolous garbage while unwittingly demolishing (oh, sorry, I mean “disrupting”) any hope of a sustainable economic future for not only yourselves but the children you’ll have and doom to a grim economic future. Lucky for you at least you’ll have some awesome selfies to show them.

    But hey, at least you’re “scoring” now, eh?

    You are part and parcel of the Lord of the Flies economy the neo-tech goons are creating.

    And exactly how is Uber not a monopoly? How is the tech industry not a growing and increasingly corrupt cartel?

    Thanks to the appification of the global economy the children now have control of the nursery.

    Forget the hand basket, we’re all going to Hell in an Uber.

    Pack accordingly.

  • Theodore Bagwell

    What a shit article. Butt hurt little boys moaning about the loss of their £3 chauffeur. Oh let’s blame the black cab drivers because we tight cheap skates. Do some research because this article is a load of biased bollocks.

  • the lone ranger

    lazy article with no substance or research , cheaper is not always better

  • a taxi driver

    utter drivel…..

  • Do some research before you write such a one sided argument with little substance. A monkey could write a better article!

  • I never heard so much rubbish as this article
    Be honest and just say you like #cheap

  • The person who wrote this really has no idea about uber, why they are cheap and what they are about. And clearly doesn’t understand what a monopoly is.

  • Why presume this is a Black cab v Uber battle?
    If you did some research you will find a union representing the legitimate minicab industry & minicab drivers are at the forefront of this dispute!

  • Because of your cheap fares & Uber’s high commission all these so called jobs are funded by us tax payers in benefits to drivers.
    Uninsured & dangerous drivers killing & injuring other road users. Ask the 11 people run over in Kensington what they think of the uber driver who tried to run off after the crash

  • Up until this point, TFL have facilitated Uber at EVERY opportunity. They even changed/watered down Regulations in order to smooth their path, and yet Uber’s MO is still fundamentally illegal in London, as confirmed last week by their QC in the Workers Rights Appeal.
    40,000 job losses is blatantly untrue. Uber’s own figures throw this number into doubt, and when you think about it, no one is losing their job anyway. According to Uber these are not Employees, but independent Contractors, free to work for any other PH Operator. If Uber folds, demand will still remain & simply be mopped up by any number of the other 24,459 PH Operators in London. Furthermore, Uber state that as many as 60% of their drivers only work part-time
    This situation is no one’s fault but Uber’s. They have had more chances than any other Operator, ever, to fix their problems but have arrogantly refused to. Even the repeated extensions to their expired licence is unprecedented & just goes to prove how much TFL are trying to help them, but all to no avail as they continue to try to garner public opinion through half truths, mis-information & deflection.

  • John o connor

    Love the way 25,000 individual Taxi drivers influence ( ‘powerful ‘) is seen to have more sway than a $ 7o billion dollar company that spends £250, ooo a month on lobbying in the u. K . Let’s not let facts get in the way of a theory . Monopoly comes from the word mono which means one , in London there are an abundance of travel options , but theory and facts don’t sit well with your agenda .

  • couldnt have put it better. blackcab drivers have been barking at TfL ever since Uber first got its license in 2012. they have stalked TfL staff, hacked their SM accounts and abused TfL’s taxi and private hire twitter feed on twitter relentlessly and TfL have caved in.

    Hopefully Uber will win its appeal, London needs Uber and Uber needs London.

  • Please do your research before constructing such a one sided arguement.

    You like cheap. Lots of people are cheap. They put morality and safety of others before anything else so that they can personally benefit from cheap.

    Here’s the facts that you don’t mentions:

    – Last quarter Uber lost over £400m. Currently, via research from Financial Times, each ride is subsidised to the tune of 59%. What you pay now is not the real cost of a ride. It’s called predatory pricing. I’ll let you Google it if you don’t believe me.

    – Allegations of sexual assault are up 50% year on year. If any other company in the U.K. had 32 allegations made against them in just one city over 12 months their would be outcry! If it’s cheap does that make it ok?

    – Uber have withheld information and not reported serious crimes from the police. That makes them not fit and proper as an operator.

    – the London black taxi trade actually introduced the technology to London before Uber. Hailo (now called mytaxi) was here some 12 months earlier. There are now several apps from taxi providers (mytaxi, Gett, taxiapp, etc) and over 2,500 other minicab operators to chose from. Consumer choice is still there, you just need to look.

    – Uber drivers are paid on average below the market minimum wage. They are forced to work 80 plus hours to cover costs. Does that sound right or do we as a nation now condone slave labour?

    – Uber have had five years to sort these problems out. They changed nothing. They were granted a four month extension to improve. They did nothing. How many chances can a regulator give them?

    – Greyballing. Uber have masked their services to the regulator. Why would they do that if everything is above board? Could it be because Uber accept Chinese menus for insurance cover? Again, a simple
    Google search will show you all this.

    I could name another dozen points if you’d like around RTA increase, two Uber driver terrorist attacks, 13,000 false DBS checks, fake medicals, cross border hiring and more.

    I’ll however let you do the research and let you make a more two sided argument other than its cheap.

    Like most things in life if it’s cheap someone is losing out. Whether it’s the kids in sweatshops or drivers working 80 plus hours for £5ph.

    If that’s consumer choice then just maybe there’s a bigger social problem that faces the UK where we think that is acceptable.

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