London Cabbies Plan Further Uber Protests
London's black cab drivers are planning more go-slow protests like the one on Tuesday which brought parts of the city to a stand-still, the Times reports.
Cab drivers, angry that mobile app Uber is taking revenue away from them, forced roads around Trafalgar Square to close during the hour-long protest. Demonstrations also took place simultaneously in other European cities such as Paris and Madrid.
The London protest seriously backfired, however, after frustrated Londoners downloaded Uber in record numbers. The app's developers reported an 850 percent increase in downloads compared to last week.
Ian Stephens of Saffron Brand Consultants said the protest had not been properly thought through. "I think it is a massive own goal. Uber have come across has the consumer champion," he said.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, remains undaunted, though. He told the Times: "We will be having more protests. Quite a lot of cabbies enjoyed themselves."
The Uber app works by locating the nearest available car and then calculating the fare by distance and time. Transport for London insisted that this is not the same a taximeter, which only black cabs are legally allowed to use on London’s roads, but has referred the case to the High Court.
Uber have now confirmed they are adding a new section of the app – UberCab – in response to the protests. This will allow users to book and pay for traditional black cabs through the app, with the same fare rates as the cabs would normally charge.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said he understood the concerns of cab drivers, but the issue should be resolved in the courts.
He added: "The hackney carriage is iconic, and it is absolutely right that our cabbies are properly protected.
"Black cab drivers are the face of London not just for Londoners but for millions of visitors to our city."