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Minister for London bemoans lack of Ubers heading ‘south of the river’ and the cost of black cabs

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Conservative MP and Minister for London Paul Scully bemoaned the lack of Uber drivers willing to take him home ‘south of the river’ and begrudged paying the metered price offered up by London’s black cabs for longer journeys, much to onlookers surprise.

The MP was criticised by taxi drivers and the public for not showing support towards a service seen as a ‘symbol of London’ especially given his role as Minister for London.

Ewan Venters, CEO of leading international contemporary and modern art gallery Hauser & Wirth, said: “As Minister of London, I think when you need to use a taxi, you should only use Black Cabs.

“They are a symbol of London, a major brand statement to the world! We should be doing more to protect & enhance such icons of our great city!“

Scully MP responded: “I'd love to but living 16 miles away from the centre it costs way too much for that kind of journey. Both have a place in a free market.”

Taxi fares are heavily regulated by local licensing authorities. Transport for London (TfL) use a cost index system which takes into account the costs involved running a black cab and also takes into account the living costs for the capital.

There remains a big shortage of private hire drivers in the capital and across the UK, as operators struggle to recruit. Thousands of minicab drivers left the industry during the pandemic to find other work and never to return.

The App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) this week called a 24-hour national strike for Uber drivers who are facing a cost of living crisis due to fuel inflation running at 44%, vehicle costs up 28% and household inflation up 7.8%.

They demanded Uber raise fares to £2.50 per mile and £0.20 per minute instead of the £1.06 per mile and £0.10 per minute offered recently in central London.

Paul Scully MP’s original post on Twitter said: “Genuinely can't remember the last time I could find an Uber driver in central London who's prepared to go south of the river.”

Scully put the shortages down to “changes to the private hire licensing application by TfL”.

Recent changes to a minicab driver's application include mandatory HMRC tax checks and regular six month DBS safety checks. There has also been more focus put on safeguarding awareness and basic English language requirements.

Uber said this Spring that their aim is to recruit 20,000 new drivers on their platform before the start of 2023.


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