By Daniel Hunter
There was a 850% rise in the number of new users of the mobile taxi-booking app service, Uber, following a protest by taxi drivers in London yesterday (Wednesday).
Around 12,000 black cab drivers took part in the “go-slow” protest which brought major travel disruption to the streets of London.
Taxi drivers are unhappy that Uber, which uses an app to calculate the cost of fares, is unregulated. They say that the app is essentially a meter, which only cab drivers are legally allowed to use in London.
Uber’s UK and Ireland general manager Jo Bertram said: “Londoners are voting with their fingers, tapping the app in support of new and innovative services as we see our biggest day of sign-ups in London today since launch two years ago.
“In fact, today we’re seeing an 850% increase in sign-ups compared to last Wednesday. The results are clear: London wants Uber in a big way.”
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), which is fully regulated by Transport for London (TfL) claims Uber drivers aren’t regulated and passengers are putting themselves at risk.
But Ms Bertram said: “We passed TfL’s most stringent and comprehensive audit of a Private Hire Vehicle operator to date, passing with flying colours.”
Derrick Hoare, of the LTDA, said the protestors wanted to highlight that taxi drivers undergo between four and seven years of training before receiving their license.
The leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, Ian Beetlestone, said he hoped the protest would send a clear message that Uber was operating in a “grey area”.
There were similar protests held in Madrid, Berlin, Milan and Paris, with ‘traditional’ taxi drivers across Europe seemingly unhappy with the lack of regulation for Uber.
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