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RMT London Taxi Branch raises concerns over app technology's impact on London taxi trade



The RMT London Taxi Branch 0930 has voiced their concerns regarding app-based technology and its potential detrimental effects on the London taxi trade following Uber's recent announcement of recruiting taxi drivers onto their platform in 2024.


The app-based ride-hail giant has embarked on an ambitious PR blitz aimed at expanding its presence in the London taxi trade. While technological advancements have undeniably revolutionised the way we all summon road surface transportation, the RMT statement suggests there are several critical factors that both drivers and the travelling public must consider moving forward.

Firstly, the RMT statement warns that once app-based platforms fully control the working practices of licensed taxi drivers, the traditional metered fare system may become a distant memory. This situation could potentially lead to a race to the bottom, with drivers competing to take jobs for the lowest price, leaving them financially strained.


Furthermore, the current incentive-driven approach employed by app-based providers, which favours drivers who pick up passengers through their platforms rather than hailing cabs on the street or at a taxi rank, may soon come to an end. The RMT raises concerns about the legality of this practice, as regulated taxi fares cannot exceed metered charges unless explicitly approved. Clarity on this matter is eagerly awaited from the regulator.


Additionally, the exclusion of certain sections of society, such as the elderly, individuals with special needs, and non-smartphone users - often referred to as the "Digitally Excluded" - is a worrying consequence of app-based technology's prominence. The RMT see it as is imperative that regulators ensure these groups are not disadvantaged. The RMT London Taxi Branch urges Transport for London (TfL) to conduct an urgent 'Equality Assessment' to address this issue promptly.

Finally the RMT suggests that the lack of legislation specifically governing taxi services provided through apps places an unjust burden of compliance solely on drivers.


The RMT Taxi Branch spokesperson highlights the importance of maintaining the ability to hail a cab from the curb as a fundamental aspect of the London taxi trade. Using purpose-built vehicles that are 100% accessible, with metered fares protecting both driver and passenger, along with drivers who have undergone the renowned Knowledge of London test, ensures the highest level of service. The RMT London Taxi Branch urges the traveling public to support local taxi drivers to ensure the continued existence of this iconic service.


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