Uber Gets No Love From London Mayor’s Pledge to Cab Industry

Updated on
  • City’s journey planner app to add taxi booking information
  • More bus lanes opening to black cabs but not Uber cars

Four months into his new job as mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is pledging new measures to protect the city’s taxi drivers. Just as long as they’re driving one of the city’s traditional black cabs and not an Uber.

The mayor’s office said Tuesday that the city’s transport authority will incorporate taxi booking information into its Transport for London journey planner mobile app by “summer 2017.” It will allow tourists and locals seeking a travel itinerary to be shown routes and times available using the capital’s traditional cab services in addition to other forms of public transport.

“From my first day at City Hall I have been determined to drive up standards and improve safety for every passenger in London, while protecting the future of our iconic black cabs that provide a unique and invaluable service for Londoners,” Khan said in a statement Tuesday.

Sadiq Khan

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Starting later this year, black taxis will also be able to drive in an additional 20 lanes through the city that are typically reserved for buses. Private hire vehicles, such as those from Uber Technologies Inc., can’t take advantage of these less busy routes through traffic. A 20 percent increase in the number of taxi ranks, or designated pick-up locations, throughout London is also planned to take place by 2020.

“These proposals favor black cabs and discriminate against drivers who use apps like Uber,” San Francisco-based Uber’s general manager for London, Tom Elvidge, said in a statement. “This plan will cost drivers who use Uber hundreds of pounds, and thousands may lose their livelihoods as a result. Fewer drivers will mean longer waiting times.”

Measures previously announced by TfL, and contested in court by Uber, include a requirement for all private hire drivers to pass an English language exam. 

In August Elvidge said the legal action against TfL over such requirements was “very much a last resort." On Sept. 1, a U.K. judge allowed Uber’s court challenge to go ahead.