Banning Uber in London represents “dark day for competition and progress in the UK”, says the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).
The IEA, a think-tank founded in 1955, commented on Transport for London’s (TfL) decision not to extend ride-hailing firm Uber’s licence. Concerns were raised around the working opportunities for the 45,000 drivers registered with the operator.
In London there are approximately 2,000 operators servicing the public. Global apps similar to Uber include firms like Ola, Kapten and Bolt. According to Bolt, they have now surpassed 30,000 registered drivers in London.
Director of Trade and Competition at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Shanker Singham, said: “Transport for London’s effective ban on Uber in London represents a dark day for competition and progress in the UK.
“Uber – and other platforms like it – give consumers real alternatives to the monopoly enjoyed by London’s black cab industry. As with any regulatory crackdown on new entrants, this action will harm London’s consumers, particularly damaging the least-well-off who cannot afford the high cost of black cabs.
“As well, this move will destroy working opportunities for thousands of people, including many immigrants and ethnic minorities. As well, safety aspects of the app – like being able to track and share your ride and having the drivers details on your phone – will be sorely missed by more vulnerable groups, who might feel more at risk waiting on a dark kerb for a ride in the middle of the night.
“The cab industry and ride-sharing apps operate in two different regulatory models, which can sit alongside each other and serve different needs. Black cabs should look at government regulations that artificially increase their costs, instead of blocking much needed competition in this sector.
“Unfortunately TfL has opted for the most protectionist approach possible, banning a major mode of transport that has dramatically improved many Londoners’ standard of living.”