Remember the time when we worried about what London would look like without Uber? And now we worry about what London would look like without, um, anything? Well blast-from-the-past, Uber’s back in news having just won their court case to continue operating! Hurrah! I think?
Way back in November, when we used to have things to get taxis to, Transport For London refused Uber a renewal of its license to operate in the capital. Ten months of legal wrangling later and Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram has today decided that the taxi app is “fit and proper” and has approved the granting of a new licence.
It seems, anyway, that TFL have pre-empted the ruling and have instead embarked on a new tack to defeat Uber: making London's roads complete misery...
TFL, which entirely by coincidence happens to run Uber’s struggling competitors, the tube, trains and busses, while also regulating London’s black cab fleet, had blocked the application based on safety concerns.
Worryingly they cite several safety failings that put passengers at risk, particularly around driver ID. However Ikram says that he’s happy that Uber have overcome their challenges, saying “Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV operator’s licence.”
It seems, anyway, that TFL have pre-empted the ruling and have instead embarked on a new tack to defeat Uber: making London’s roads complete misery. Seizing on new money from the Department of Transport, the mayor’s office has tasked TFL with making London’s road network effectively impassable.
Bus lanes (which Ubers are precluded from entering) have turned 24/7, rather than just operating during rush hours. This is despite the fact that bus services have been curtailed during covid and the remaining busses that are operating are pretty much coronavirus petri-dishes, pushing Londoners into safer options like Ubers.
Residents across London are also up in arms at recent TFL interventions on High Streets ostensibly designed to facilitate more cycling. At a time when Londoners are being actively told to work from home, the empty new cycle lanes springing up across the capital have clogged up previously passable streets, preventing vehicles turning off side streets and grinding traffic to a standstill.
The initiative means that idling cars now pump toxic fumes into the faces of shoppers and walkers at all hours, but on the up-side they do make it far harder for Ubers (and ambulances) to navigate. All of which pushes terrified Londoners back onto the tube and busses.