TfL’s Uber decision is no victory for liberalism

The decision taken by Transport for London to revoke Uber’s licence undermines a key theme of Vince Cable’s speech from just a few days ago, a belief in competitive markets. Whilst the company has only operated in the capital for a relatively short time, the benefits it has bought to London’s transport market for both Londoners and tourists alike have been numerous. Uber not only provides a cheaper, more accessible transport solution to its customers, but it has also forced its competitors to innovate, an example being black cabs now accepting card payments, freeing their users from having to carry large amounts of cash. If the Liberal Democrats are to be a proud champion of enterprise, the party should feel no shame in its support for companies such as Uber, which provide choice to consumers in what is otherwise a monopolistic market.

It is reasonable to have concerns over safety, but to pretend that these concerns should be limited to Uber and not the wider taxi market is nonsensical. Indeed, it could be argued that by providing customers with information about a driver before they have arrived, as well as providing the means to track the driver’s whereabouts, Uber is comparatively safer than the average black cab. Liberal Democrat representatives in London should now look to work with Uber and TfL to insure the swift return of the 40,000 registered Uber drivers to the city’s streets, and to guard against a protectionist stitch-up that puts the interests of established transport providers ahead of the interests of consumers.

* Andy Briggs is Co-Chair of Liberal Reform, a pressure group for personal, political, social and economic liberalism.

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  • Good victory for trade unionism, though.

  • As was pointed out this morning on the radio – wonder how long it will take to filter down to the young ones that their favourite taxi service has been stopped by their favourite party?

  • Richard Easter 23rd Sep '17 - 9:38am

    I see no mention of Uber flouting regulations, with its Greyball software, failing to report criminal offences causing the police to speak out against them, conduct proper background checks on its drivers, ensure drivers can actually speak English, not to mention the fact that drivers have appalling working conditions.

    It’s not just London Uber have been banned from / pushed out of – Denmark, Bulgaria, Hungary and Alaska amongst many.

    We should not be supporting bad businesses. What next, support for Ryanair, Sports Direct, G4S, Capita and Phillip Green?

  • “It is reasonable to have concerns over safety, but to pretend that these concerns should be limited to Uber and not the wider taxi market is nonsensical. Indeed, it could be argued that by providing customers with information about a driver before they have arrived, as well as providing the means to track the driver’s whereabouts, Uber is comparatively safer than the average black cab.”

    This would be reasonable if it wasn’t for Uber’s record of 4 times the rate of assaults as the rest of the industry, AIUI.

    I’m all for competition but it has to be fair and not by bypassing safety rules. Then there is Greyball, software designed to evade regulators, attempted perversion of the course of justice if proved.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Sep '17 - 9:43am

    So how are Uber drivers and vehicles regulated?

    Or are people expected to get into a Uber taxi knowing nothing whatsoever about the competence and character of the driver and/or the safety of the vehicle?

  • Simon Horsman 23rd Sep '17 - 9:49am

    I’m pragmatic on this but allowing Uber and others the freedom to function is both liberal and Liberal.

    BUT does anyone have the facts as to whether Uber drivers have a better or worse record than other cab organisations or freelances for the various offences that can be committed by drivers for hire?

    One might want to look at in terms of the few years Uber has been running as maybe all firms need time to “bed down”.

    What are the trends? Are Uber and similar app-based firms getting “better” or “worse”?

    And can these answers be widely publicised? To my mind the courts are not the right place for this issue to be settled. It may well be that Uber and similar need to be forced to behave better so maybe new or adjusted rules need to be put in place and then enforced.

    Legal proscription – no.

  • Liberalism is all well and good however the Lib Dems have to learn that it works both ways. Yet then the Lib Dems don’t really have a vision for Britain that includes the sorts of rights and responsibilities that we should expect in a top ten global economy. Even without Brexit they don’t have a clue.

  • Simon Horsman 23rd Sep '17 - 9:51am

    Response to Richard Easter – I feel MOST strongly that the regulations should be enforced

  • Judging from this account, suspending Uber’s licence was very definitely the right thing to do. Liberalism works both ways. It should allow business to work while ensuring that staff and customers are protected. The “while ensuring” bit was clearly going wrong.

  • Simon McGrath 23rd Sep '17 - 10:24am

    @Colin Rosensteil – can you share the data for your assertion that Uber drivers are more likely to commit assaults ?

    Great article Andy – its shameful to see our GLA rep aligning with Farage and his like celebrating 40,000 mostly BAME people losing their jobs

  • Companies and individuals must comply with rules and laws – especially in protecting the public who are vulnerable and unsuspecting of any unsafe behaviour of companies. This is particularly necessary on the streets where millions of “understood” behaviours [what we expect to happen] cannot remain unregulated. Another industry we take “on trust” is food production. In these cases, Liberal cannot mean hands-off laissez-faire.
    The Uber system is a great idea, poorly controlled, and if Uber cannot comply with rules and laws there will be other companies which can.

  • Steve Trevethan 23rd Sep '17 - 10:56am

    Perhaps we might define “cheap” more precisely?
    Perhaps we could start by differentiating between “cheapness” resulting from greater functional efficiency and “cheapness” resulting from depriving some of decent pay.

    Do starving nurses, who have to use food banks and/or “survival debt”, provide a cheaper service than those who are paid enough to “eat and heat.”?

  • This is just a taste of what a full-blown Labour government might offer. Stifled innovation, less choice, state or state-aided monopolies, kowtowing to unions, rising prices and inflation, closed markets, and a host of other illiberal nightmares.

    Let’s hope that somehow cool heads will prevail and Uber can stay on. and well done to the author of this article.

  • In this case it feels to me that TFL were acting to protect “their” producers rather than their customers. TFL dont seem neutral in this, they are acting for one side while also being The Judge.
    This is a classic example of Trade Unions & their Statist allies acting against their own long-term interests, like The Dockers Unions did in the 60s & 70s. Black Cabs have a fantastic “Brand”, recognised Internationally but they have been doing their best to to trash it.
    I have signed the Petition & I would ask other Liberals to sign it too.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 23rd Sep '17 - 1:02pm

    Good piece Andy, and I agree with Paul Barker above.

    It is striking how many Lib Dems have supported the decision, on the implicit assumption that TFL’s regulatory regime is perfect. Surely a key role of Lib Dems is to start from a sceptical basis when it comes to the statist, vested-interest-dominated regulatory regimes which our political opponents have designed and implemented.

  • Phil Wainewright 23rd Sep '17 - 1:15pm

    If we truly “believe in competitive markets” then every operator must be held accountable to the same rules – and the rules must ensure a level playing field.

    On the second of these points, yes, let’s make sure that the regulations aren’t unjustifiably protecting an established industry from innovative competitors. But it’s a bit of a leap to go from that stance to automatically assuming Uber is being banned simply because it provides unwelcome competition.

    There are plenty of other taxi app services that still have licences, including UK/European owned businesses such as startups MyTaxi, Kabbee, Gett, BlaBlaCar and long-established private hire firm Addison Lee. Why should they be penalised for sticking to the rules if Uber is allowed to get away with playing fast and loose? If Uber is persistently flouting the rules, it would be uncompetitive *not* to deny its licence.

    Let’s not forget also that Uber has just had a change of top management in reaction to an extremely shoddy corporate culture where corners were cut, putting the safety and privacy of both staff and riders at risk. This company has form and does not deserve a free pass.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Sep '17 - 1:43pm

    This uber ban is crying out for a centrist solution. Increase the regulation, but not an outright ban, especially not a permanent one.

    523,000 have signed the pro Uber petition so far. I’m staying out of it, because I’m not a Londoner, but it seems there is a disconnect between the left’s voters and the left wing representatives who have been celebrating this decision.

  • paul barker 23rd Sep '17 - 2:47pm

    There is a basic unfairness about a situation where TFL run Tubes/Railways & get to decide the rules under which Competitors operate, how can they be neutral. The decision to close Uber, throwing 40,000 workers on the dole with a weeks notice was effectively taken by The Mayor, under pressure from Labour MPs, Labour GLAMs & Unions controlled by various Leninist groups. There is a clear agenda here & it is Statist & Corporatist, we should not be tagging along.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Sep '17 - 3:12pm

    When something is wrong with something and the thing itself is a service that is needed and decent , not harmful or dangerous in of itself , the Liberal solution is to improve it , the democratic answer to consult on it.

    Uber are most popular with their drivers and customers. Name any service where there are not concerns.

    Interesting if many NHS employees complain about their lifestyle and patients about their treatment ,we do not abolish the NHS, we rarely, not as much as we should , even accept the blame might just sometimes be shared. No, we do not blame the management , but the government . We certainly do not abolish it.

    This decision is premature and heavy handed.

    As a Londoner born and bred in my many years living there I knew the famed black cab service to be known for being sly, exorbitant and a clique.

    If they have improved it is because of not despite the proliferation of alternatives, decades of mini cabs , now Uber.

    Abolishing players in the market when the market should be regulated, is not the business of government .The regulation is. The abolishing should come about by the choices made by the customers.

  • Stew Elliott 23rd Sep '17 - 4:05pm

    I don’t see that there is anything complicated about this, markets need rules or they fall into unfairness and dysfunction, Uber flouted those rules and they have been brought to book. The door is open for them to appeal and/or regain their license, they have only to mend their ways.

  • Ann Morrison 23rd Sep '17 - 4:24pm

    I never use Uber on principle. They evade responsibility to customers and drivers with their fake claims not to be an employer. Their aim has been to monopolise the market by flooding it with drivers, many of whom end up earning below the minimum wage, without proper entitlements to holiday pay, sick pay etc. They drive other mini cab firms who treat employees properly out of business. Their current fake concerns for drivers are totally hypocritical – their aim is get driverless cars on the road as fast as possible, when they will be delighted to put their current drivers out of work.

    I notice most of the comments so far are from men. Most women customers are probably glad action is being taken against a company that tried to hide sexual assaults by its drivers on customers. Perhaps those moaning about the unfairness of regulation should think a bit more about passenger safety. Other taxi companies are not facing their licence loss. If Uber won’t play by the rules they should pay the price. They have a right of appeal which they are exercising, so will still be on the road for months yet.

  • An unprofitable firm provides a cheaper service as it tries to establish a monopoly position on behalf of vested interests? Of course it does – but a party in favour of markets and innovation should not consider this a virtue.

    I owe my career, house and car to coming on a couple of decades in US tech firms, including a lot of VC funding. I’m entirely in favour of them doing well. But we shouldn’t give too much credence to those caught up in the romance of far away Silicon Valley, quite often with no actual experience in it. Uber is a bad actor.

    Not many companies receive so much vitriol on the tech industry’s own websites. The recent sacking of their CEO was no surprise. It’s a shame to read these pieces fawning over the company – which never seem to mention their competition in smart phone-based private cabs. How can the market innovate in the interests of both consumers and workers, if we favour big money interests that seek to prevent genuine competition?

    Uber’s own CEO has recognised they need to sort themselves out. The Lib Dems should have a spine and only support their continued operation if and when they do so. Whether or not they do, let’s support the market as it does its thing and provides alternatives.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Sep '17 - 4:55pm

    Jon , much of what you say to be sure is correct, but as I said, in my use of the word premature in describing the revocation, they should have sorted themselves out.

    I care not a jot for sport, but this deserved a warning not an expulsion from the pitch of players.

    The black cabs had many viewpoints against them, victims of assault customers conned. Rightly they were and are made to improve.

    If companies are free to start up and innovate they must expand within a regulated market.

    This was not regulation but expulsion.

    I can see why I dislike the dislike of others for the centre ground. Liberalism there , left of there or even to the right, must be about flexibility.

    The answer to the claim and practice of flexibility from Uber, is not an inflexible dismissal of them altogether but a forcing of all companies to comply internationally to better standards.

    Social Liberalism and Social Democracy can and must be present in economic liberalism and the defeat by all of these three , of laissez faire capitalism, called too often by that misused phrase neoliberalism.

    Its reposte must be robuste adherance to social market principles.

  • This article is simply inaccurate in a number of ways.

    For example if we are going to use Vince’s support for competitive markets, let’s also remember his equal support for large corporations not having undue influence over governments or public policy – witness his views and actions towards 21st Century Fox wanting to take over Sky. Quite frankly Uber are an aggressive company, which believes it can ride roughshod over basic regulatory requirements. In my book being a Liberal Democrat is not giving into corporates which blatantly break rules.

    Secondly, the argument that there was a ‘monopolistic market’ before Uber started operating in London is simply not true. Private hire vehicles have been on London’s roads since the early 1960s. Companies such as Addison Lee were established a long time ago. London also now has a range to alternative apps to Uber – and will certainly have many more in future years.

    Finally Simon McGrath – bringing in the views of Farage don’t really help matters and is a bit of a desperate argument. For a start, there are a wide range of people opposing TfL’s ruling which most Liberal Democrats would never want to line up with. I am also not aware of many people now expressing concern about the plight of Uber ever showing much interest in the working conditions of Uber drivers, including some them of fighting simply for basic employment rights which most of use take for granted.

    Eddie – no one is calling for a permanent ban on Uber. That is not in fact in the powers of any regulator. If Uber meet basic regulatory conditions they will be able to gain a licence in future. It really is simple as that.

    I hope this FOI reply about the record of Uber in London adds to the debate. I would encourage people to read it.


  • This freedom of information reply is also worth reading.

  • Liberal1234 23rd Sep '17 - 9:34pm

    The comments here are couched in terms of a ‘ban’ or ‘proscription’. Yet what has happened is simply non-renewal of Uber’s licence to operate until such time as they can demonstrate that they are responsibly co-operating with the police and regulator. Furthermore, Uber already operates in a competitive market against thousands of other PHV operators and taxi drivers, as well as TfL buses, TfL over- and under-ground trains, and overground rail lines run by private operating companies (indeed, it runs at a loss because the only way it can grow its market share is to subsidise fares to below-cost levels).

  • Mick Taylor 23rd Sep '17 - 9:44pm

    Let’s be very clear on this.
    1. TFL not the Mayor made this decision. Whatever you think about the decision making blatantly racist attacks blaming Sadiq Khan for this decision is not on. (As seen in the Tory Press)
    2. Even Adam Smith the apostle of free market capitalism argued that the government should hold the ring in a capitalist economy and set the rules.
    3. TFL set the rules for everyone to follow. Uber know the rules but choose to ignore them.
    4. Uber can get its license back if it agrees to follow the rules and ensure public safety in its cars.

    Anything else is just waffle.

  • Tony Greaves 23rd Sep '17 - 9:56pm

    Basically the people who run Uber are capitalist cowboys. The role of the democratic Liberal state is to regulate the competitive sector to make it fair, to provide as level a playing field as possible, and to determine and enforce necessary protections for both consumers and workers. It is fairly clear that Uber think they can fight off all such regulation and protections and just do as they wish (and play the system by appealing etc). As Mick Taylor says all they have to do is follow the rules.

  • If you’re reading this please scroll back and read what Ann Morrison has to say – just because Black Cabs aren’t perfect doesn’t mean we should tolerate Uber.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Sep '17 - 11:58pm

    Some of the subsequent comments are very informative and constructive , if as often overly dramatic.

    It might take someone steeped in the drama of the stage to bring some realism of the cinema too , here to our story, but Iam very happy for the script or narrative to adapt.

    It has been couched as a proscription or ban.

    If as colleagues above say all it means is a kick up the proverbial backside of Uber and a demand to play by the rules we as a community set , I have no problem with the decision.

    Any attempts to malign the mayor are wrong, as it is not his call.

    And too many attempts to turn this into a divisive clash by vested interests , all too keen to make ideological concerns paramount ,not those of drivers in Uber or customers are not what is warranted.

    But the concerns of colleagues here are correct.

    Internationalism is too readily to the liking of too many apologists of the worse aspects of globalisation that it is a pity that too much of big business is getting away with slippery ways better stopped.

    But the pleas of drivers who are able to be autonomous and flexible and customers too, must be heard and today they were legion too.

  • Simon Horsman 24th Sep '17 - 1:20am

    I reckon we’re still short of facts folks.
    What are the stats on Uber re assaults, insults fraudulent behaviour and such?
    Please direct me and others to them.

  • I would just like to make it clear that my comment was in support of trade unions.
    Uber have a poor record of complying with local standards. The idea that this is about protecting a monopoly is easily countered by the fact there are lots of private cab firms within London. Uber is simply ignoring regulations to keep costs down and give it an unearned edge over competitors. One of the problems is that fans of Tech like to presents everything done as maverick, innovative and customer centric, when actually there’s an awful lot corner cutting, cheating and fly-by-nights in some parts of industry.

  • David Lowrence 24th Sep '17 - 7:57am

    Is this about Taxis or Taxes? I would like it to be disproven, but as the payments for Uber Fares go to the US, where do they pay tax?

  • Those who point out that there are already private hire operators and thus Uber is no different are on the wrong point. The laws seperate two types, licenced Hackneys and private hire. Hackneys can “ply for hire” that is you can hail them and the rules always assumed you must be able to see them. GPS on phones now means you can “hail” a cab you can’t see so Uber are taking Hackney business not private hire. So to those who say uber must simply play by the rules “what rules?” Hackney (with all that implies),? Or private hire which means pre booking?
    Uber is a hailing device not pre booking. The hackney trade will use every trick they can to stop uber operating.

  • The principle and concept of Uber is great. The failing is trusting tech to deliver without taking account of human error, personality, foibles etc. Increasingly we accept tech without any real analysis or checks etc and that needs to change. My experience of uber is that it lets you down more than delivers. Ive had no end of drivers cancel because they’re trying to do too many rides in a short time. Yesterday here in Manchester I was charged for someone else’s journey. And if you want to do a detour during your journey the tech can’t cope. You have to stop the trip and order another driver because your driver won’t be compensated financially for the alteration. It’s complex and complicated – add to that unmarked cars (not all have Uber tags on them) and other safety concerns. However this does not mean we shouldn’t welcome the potential innovation that uber brings. BUT as liberals what we must do is ensure that a real competitive market is allowed to flourish. So often in this country we have allowed the US market to swamp us or given green light to huge monopolies which kill off any competition. Look at the film industry, now controlled by the US, TV will go the same way if we let it. We should be about helping to nurture small businesses, supporting choice and creating a real level playing field for proper competition to flourish. And having some basic rules and regulations are key.

  • That divide disappeared largely with everyone having mobile phones. I know plenty of people who don’t bother with Uber but just ring their private hire firm of choice and say “can I have a cab from The Swan and Ferret on Filton Street”. And most cabs now seem to call you when they are outside so the “Uber stops me having to wait outside” arguement is largely redundant.

    Uber’s USP is really that they have a slick app that works well. But other cab firms have now developed that..

    Finally it seems rather odd that the uber-free marketeers (see what I did there 🙂 in the LIb Dems are using the X,000 cab drivers will be out of a job. The market is still there so according the to Adam Smith rules there will still be a need for work.

  • Diane Holden 24th Sep '17 - 11:09am

    “It is reasonable to have concerns over safety, but to pretend that these concerns should be limited to Uber and not the wider taxi market is nonsensical.”

    Indeed. So why are you suggesting it? The problem is that the wider taxi market is meeting the safety demands of the regulatory authority, whereas Uber is not, despite being asked to do so. When they make the changes required and meet the standards the rest of the market has to, they can have their licence back.

  • I’m not a Londoner either but would have thought that maybe a yellow (!) card would have been more appropriate – so maybe give Uber 12 months to get its act together in terms of meeting the concerns expressed, and if they don’t, then remove their licence.

  • Sorry to repeat myself but this was a Political decision, made by a Politician as the result of a Political campaign by a variety of Authoritarian Socialists in The Labour Party & various (Communist led) Unions. People who think its just about “Rules” are falling for old Labour tricks.
    Incidentally, the Anti-Uber campaign is a classic illustration of why Union membership has declined from 1 in 2 in 1980 to 1 in 5 now, Unions & Labour face backwards, forever defending what they have instead of looking for new gains. In their eyes every change is a threat.

  • Paul’
    Unions have declined because legislation as curbed them far too much. They’re much better at raising wages and protecting rights than politicians or the EU. That’s why economic right wingers hate them so much. More people should unionise, especially the young. Most of the people who argue against them just think workers should accept their lot and if that means lower earning or worse condition so be it. Big time fan of Trade Unions.

  • @MerseyLib – “but would have thought that maybe a yellow (!) card would have been more appropriate – so maybe give Uber 12 months to get its act together in terms of meeting the concerns expressed, and if they don’t, then remove their licence.”

    The Yellow card was served several months back; Uber has had the grace period to “get its act together”, it hasn’t.

  • Glenn, I usually agree with all you say but I started work in a traditional heavy engineering firm on ‘Red Tyneside’ in the early seventies. Progress was impossible and any attempt at new methods or machinery were promptly ‘blacked’
    An Audi dealers now sits on where the workshop was.
    My view is that unionism declined as ordinary, non political, workers realised the damage some of these very politicised union leaders were doing.

  • What an over the top hyperbolic headline, and what a poorly researched article. The coup de grace of course is the charge of illiberalism, usually charged in my experience when the argument being made lacks any substance. So in short order: Uber’s licence is not being revoked it is not being renewed; the company has had plenty of time to address the numerous criticisms of its modus operandi, including poor vetting and poor passenger safety; and it can appeal, during which time it will be able to continue operating. As Liberals and Democrats we must seek to disentangle consumer good from societal damage, and seek to balance benefits and harms, an increasing challenge in a world of big data and monopolistic tech gods, like Uber, and Google, Facebook and Apple, to name only the contemporary ones, more are one the way I’m sure. Back to the issue – public transport in London is good (not perfect), there are a plethora of arrangements for travelling from A to B and beyond, (we now even have a night-tube), truly a very competitive market. TfL did indeed force all Black cabs to offer card payments, and since Uber’s arrival there has been in exponential increase in firms offering app based pick-up arrangements. Where Uber differs is in its unwillingness to meet the basics, basics that other transport services have to. It also acts a rentier, taking money from both passengers and drivers, but seemingly feeling no need to use that to address any of these problems. The current argument about the ruling discriminating against BME drivers is bogus, as anyone who has used any one of the hundreds of other local mini-cab companies will know; across the world mini-cabs are a route for people from those communities (and newly arrived immigrants, those with low educational attainment, and those needing second incomes) to get an income. Uber is nothing more, and nothing less an a 21C rentier, trying to control a market by squeezing out other competitors, this time through the use of an (at its launch) ingenious new piece of technology. What’s happening now is that And now the GIG economy is facing its first hurdle, as AirBnB is also finding out. It is likely that some of the first arrivals will fall, as their models become unable to cope with retrenchment from political, economic and social actors, who are able to mobilise against them because of their failings, creating creative destructions via regulation, not ‘a la Schumpeter’.

  • Besides the concerns already listed against Uber for me there is also an additional issue, unconsidered thus far. In London, the combination of ‘instant deliveries’, Uber, and infrastructure changes have seen an increase in our air pollution. The truth is we need fewer road vehicles, not more. But Uber’s business model is predicated on flooding the market with ‘non-employees’ driving less than tiptop vehicles, in an effort to dominate the market. It’s bad for the drivers, who end up chasing fewer and fewer pounds per driver (see how that’s turned out in India), as well as pushing more lethal gases into our city centre. For me, the kind of big-tech apps that we need to see more of are coming from places facing similar problems, for instance China, where they’ve pioneered car sharing, and new approaches to bike renting. Much more beneficial, albeit bringing their own, if lesser, challenges. The upshot of all of this is that Uber now has a chance to clean up its act and play by the rules. We should be supporting Tfl’s decision, and seeking to work with all transport providers to ensure everyone has access to good, safe, affordable transport, where all providers treats both their staff and clients with respect.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Sep '17 - 8:33am

    Uber want to negotiate. Why not just comply? It was said on Any Answers? that Uber used their license in London to go national, picking up fares in Leeds and Brighton. True or false?
    Andrew Marr said to Jeremy Corbyn that only the EU is big enough to take on large international companies such as now exist in the technology world. Corbyn gave a woolly answer about regulations on state aid in the single market. Perhaps he wants to nationalise the railways (or run Ryanair?)

  • Andy, don’t you think the double standards on this are fascinating? There are many people complaining about Uber and the way they exploit their (largely male) workforce. Many of the same people are quite happy to use offices, hotels and conference venues cleaned by workers (largely foreign women) on the minimum wage or worse.

  • Ruth,

    There is plenty of evidence of Uber drivers being paid less than the statutory minimum wage. See this report as some evidence of this:'gig%20economy‘.pdf

    However, your point is valid, that concern for low paid workers should cover all sectors of the economy and both male and female workers.

    In relation to comments from other people I think this is an excellent article explaining exactly how Uber operates:

  • Julian Tisi 25th Sep '17 - 5:14pm

    What an excellent article and what a debate it has generated!

    There’s an interesting article in the Times today which suggested that the decision to revoke Uber’s licence was announced to Uber just 5 minutes before the press release. It also pointed out that there have been several TFL reviews in recent years – the latest of these being a 2 day one in April – which raised no significant issues. If true, it certainly lends weight to the theory that this is a political-led decision.

    There are many other aspects of this that make it look like a classic case of protectionism and misuse of state power. There is certainly, as others have pointed out, a conflict of interest in TFL being both regulator and competitor in this instance. As a party we should make it clear that we oppose such things, while acknowledging that all companies need to abide by rules.

  • Alex Macfie 26th Sep '17 - 8:12am

    TfL a competitor to Uber? Not really, it only provides mass urban transportation. It is not in the business of private hire, and so has set up a regulatory framework for this. If TfL had its own cab firm you would have a point, but it doesn’t.

  • nvelope2003 26th Sep '17 - 3:30pm

    If the Black cab drivers were not so choosy about who they will carry then Uber might not have done quite so well. Any trip longer than what a healthy person could walk is often refused and it is almost imposible to get a black cab to the suburbs. Competition is desperately needed but is being crushed and when Corbyn becomes Prime Minister it will be effectively abolished for ordinary people. This is all about Labour Party politics.

  • John Barrett 27th Sep '17 - 12:35pm

    Has anyone ever seen an Uber taxi which can take a wheelchair?

    If all black cabs can take them, it is hardly a level playing field allowing a fleet of cars on the road which cannot take many disabled passengers.

  • nvelope2003 27th Sep '17 - 3:24pm

    John Barrett: I agree there are issues about a level playing field but not everyone can afford black cabs and sometimes they need one. If every rule was applied too stringently it would be impossible for any new competitor to start although I am a bit concerned at the idea that Uber is charging low fares to drive everyone out of business so they can then charge whatever they like. This is an issue which needs sorting out and no doubt the pending court case will provide an opportunity to do so. Do the existing Private Hire cars take wheel chairs ? I am not sure all long distance coaches can accommodate them – should poorer people be deprived of a less expensive form of long distance travel ?

  • Nonconformistradical 30th Sep '17 - 5:41pm

    Blog posting on this from Liverpool LibDem Councillor Richard Kemp at

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