As we move ever closer to the day all London taxi drivers, their families, and all those who support our trade have been eagerly awaiting, one can't help but think; surely TFL cannot extend Uber's license following all the damning reports that have surfaced of recent....or can they?
Let's take a look at what the trade has had to endure since the arrival of the highly controversial ride sharing app Uber.
Firstly, it almost goes without saying, work levels have taken a huge hit. Some drivers claim to be earning around 30/40% less than they were 5 years ago. Most drivers are having to work extra long hours to make up their losses, with most claiming even then their earnings are falling short. The health implications of such a stressful lifestyle is extremely worrying and there have been reports of drivers losing their homes and even sadly some taking their own lives.
Now, the Taxi trade is not the first and certainly won't be the last to suffer such an attack from large heavily funded corporate operations, so we have never wanted or expected any special treatment. But to be treated fairly? Yes. It's the very least that anyone in life should expect. Some would suggest 'we're just bitter in potential defeat' but the fact is, there is, and seems to always have been, something fishy going on.
Why do we all feel this way?
Well... TFL, our governing body and regulator, seem to have done very little to protect and secure the future of our award winning and iconic trade. The very very best Taxi drivers the world has to offer operate in London, and one could be forgiven in thinking TFL, the Mayor of London, and even members of parliament would do all they could to protect such a service. But they haven't.
In fact they have done the complete opposite.
The likes of David Cameron, George Osbourne and Boris Johnson have publicly praised Uber whilst disregarding the most elite, highly trained, most regulated drivers who have served their roads for centuries. The heads of Transport for London have been in direct contact with major Uber figureheads through emails and meetings, planning Uber's rapid rise and attempted take over of all Taxi and Private hire workspace.
Uber have been allowed to pick and choose what regulations they will abide by and which ones they won't, while TFL have chosen to pick and choose which regulations to turn a blind eye to!
Congestion in London is at an all time high, and no matter what anyone tries to tell us, we know it's due to the ridiculous amounts of PHV licenses that have been issued, some reports suggesting at it's worst it was close to 650 every single week. This is just utter madness. Journey times have doubled in the last 3 years, which for a city that prides itself on getting things done, this is simply unforgivable.
Now we move onto the most worrying factor of allowing such an under regulated service to operate...
If you've got nothing to lose yet all to gain, why wouldn't you take the risk!
Criminal activity by professional Taxi drivers is almost non existent with only a handful of reported crimes in the last decade. In the last 2 years alone we have witnessed 2 terror attacks involving Uber drivers. 1 in Leytonstone when Muhaydin Mire went on a knife rampage in what was clearly an attempt to murder innocent bystanders, While the second and most recent was Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, who has been dubbed "the palace attacker" who attempted to slain 2 officer's with a 4 foot sword, and this after getting lost on route to what he thought was 'The' Windsor Castle but turned out the be a pub called Windsor Castle. Uber driver getting lost.. This is no laughing matter!
We now take a look at the rapes that have taken place and committed by Uber drivers.... Dozens upon dozens of alleged rapes have taken place, year in year out since Uber have been 'allowed' to run a muck with passenger safety. How on earth has this been allowed to continue. There is also pretty damning evidence, in way of email, that would suggest Uber have failed to report such crimes to the authorities allowing attackers to strike again. What other industry or workspace would be granted the freedom to continue operating with yearly figures of reported sexual assaults nearly reaching half a century!!!
"I am in no doubt that many victims of such hideous assaults never come forward"
Rules and regulations are put in place to protect people from their own naivety and they must be enforced. The general public see an opportunity to save a couple of pound here and there, and figure, if such an organisation is being granted permission to operate then that must mean they are all safe and good. But with such flimsy regulations on a service which licenses strangers to pick up vulnerable men and women, it was inevitable that attacks of a violent and sexual nature were going to happen.
"Im afraid that such attacks are becoming acceptable and considered as simply collateral damage within our industry"
looking back over the last 5 years I've realised one thing; although parts of our trade have appeared fragmented, the drivers themselves have shown true resilience and have put on a proud face. We know what's been going on. We know who appreciates us and who envys us. We know that the only reason our jobs are not secure is due to multi million dollar funding set out to destroy and monopolise our industry.
"I will stand side by side with my fellow cabbies until my badge is worthless"
With less than a month to go, will Uber get that licence which they clearly don't deserve or will they be sent packing?
My heart says "karma will prevail"
My head says "Money is king"
Judgement day is soon upon us.
Either way, the fight continues.