Uber is a smartphone app which has become increasingly popular in the United Kingdom. It has become a major threat to all private hire vehicles and the black cab in particular. The black cab has been affected the most by this app as the app beats the black cab in providing service to the customer instantly and economically.
The black cab drivers protested on the streets and pressurised the transport for London to take action against the app. This is why TFL sought clarity in court as whether the app was a taximeter or not. As well know the taxi metre is an exclusive right of black-cab drivers. This right is obtained by black cab drivers after they go through extensive training to pass the knowledge test.
The Court Ruling
Lord Justice Ourley ruled that Uber’s mobile service did not act as a taximeter. He further stated that according to the Private hire vehicles Act 1998 a taximeter does not contain a device which receives GPS signals while travelling and is then able to forward GPS date to a sever outside the premises of the vehicle and then server then calculates the fare with reference to the distance and sends back information to the device.
The judge further went on to clear that the app may be required to calculate the customers fare but it does not mean it is prohibiting the taximeter breach in any way.
Uber received a major boost after this win. If it had lost the case it would have been required to change the app to be in accordance to the transport of London rules. Uber announced the win as a victory of common sense. The company further stated that it hopes the transport of London will not continue with implementing bureaucratic rules.
The regional manager for Uber further went on to say that the five minute wait proposal and ban on ride sharing is also baseless. The company has already made petitioners sign against this ruling. Uber hopes transport for London will listen to the plight of the petitioners and will let London progress.
Transport for London view
Transport for London stated that it always knew that the app was not a taximeter but the public interest in this issue was so great that it had to take up the issue to court. The tfl has instead come up with a proposal of a compulsory five minute wait between booking an Uber and the driver appearing for service. This is an attempt to halt instantaneous bookings.
The tfl said it will continue its consultation as it also aims to limit the number of private hire vehicles in London which are increasing dramatically. The number of private car drivers including drivers is to exceed almost 128000 in the next two years. This is a source of high concern for air quality, traffic and congestion.
Tfl believes that disruptive app technology has changed the operations of the taxi and private hire vehicles. Tfl welcomes the change but is concerned for the interest of all stake holders. Nevertheless it will work hard for the benefit of all stake holders.