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'WE DON’T WANT IT': Uber's new ‘Black Cab’ offering draws heavy criticism from licensed taxi trade

Uber's recent announcement of its intention to partner with iconic black cabs in London has been met with strong criticism from the city's licensed taxi trade.

Representatives from the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), which advocates for around 10,000 licensed drivers, have publicly expressed their disapproval, citing a lack of prior discussions with the ride-hailing giant and a scepticism towards aligning with a company with a contentious history in the city.

This is not the first time Uber has attempted to integrate black cabs into its platform. In 2014, shortly after entering the London market, the company endeavoured to recruit a significant number of black cab drivers by promising reduced commissions. However, the effort failed to gain traction and was subsequently abandoned.

Taxi industry observers have long speculated that Uber would make another attempt to penetrate the London black cab market, following similar launches in cities like New York and Paris. Today's announcement confirmed those suspicions, as Uber aims to recruit drivers with the goal of introducing a black cab option in early 2024.

Prior to Uber's entrance in 2012, London licensed taxi drivers were already utilising ride-hailing apps such as Hailo and Gett, which debuted in 2011. Since then, these apps have experienced substantial growth, particularly in the post-pandemic era.

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the LTDA, said: “There is no demand for this partnership from the London licensed taxi drivers we represent or our passengers. Neither the LTDA nor any other taxi trade groups were consulted in advance of this unilateral announcement. We are not aware of any drivers having been recruited and don’t believe our members will even consider joining the app, given its well-documented, poor record on everything from passenger safety to workers’ rights in London.

“Our passengers can already access our world-class service through a range of apps like Gett, TaxiApp, FREENOW and ComCab, which share our values and pride themselves on providing a high-quality, safe and reliable form of accessible public transport.

“We have no interest in sullying the name of London’s iconic, world-renowned black cab trade by aligning it with Uber, its poor safety record and everything else that comes with it.”

London licensed taxi driver, Howard Taylor, said: “I would never consider joining Uber. Cabbies work hard to do the Knowledge and we take great pride in what we do. London black cabs are the gold standard. We go the extra mile to help our passengers and are committed to providing a safe, accessible and efficient service. From everything I’ve seen, I don’t believe Uber shares these commitments.”

McNamara, added: “Uber is no longer a concern for our members. Our business is thriving – in part because many of the ride-hailing app’s former customers have realised that black cabs offer a far superior service, at a fair and reasonable price. We are seeing younger demographics now choosing to travel by taxi and our members are experiencing record demand for their services across London.”


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