Wed 20th Jan '16
Uber has won a major victory in London after Transport for London dropped the most damaging proposals for the popular minicab-hailing app.
The service had faced a massive crackdown in the capital, after the transport body consulted on a series of rules for minicab firms such as a minimum five-minute wait time between rides being ordered and them starting.
However, London's mayor Boris Johnson said that these ideas "did not find widespread support" and would not proceed any further. However, TfL said it would consider making minicabs pay the £11.50 a day London congestion fee, and charging big operators like Uber more for a minicab licence.
Uber, which had previously warned that the proposals would threaten the service's future in London, said the decision was "a victory for common sense".
Jo Bertram, Uber's UK boss, said: "This is good news for Londoners and a victory for common sense.
"We’re pleased Transport for London has listened to the views of passengers and drivers, dropping the bonkers ideas proposed last year like compulsory five minute wait times and banning showing cars in apps.
"It means Uber can continue to keep London moving with a convenient, safe and affordable ride at the push of a button."
Uber is used by more than 1 million people in London and has more than 20,000 drivers in the capital since launching in 2012.
However, the rise of the service has frustrated the capital's black cab drivers and other minicab companies, and Mr Johnson has warned about growing congestion.
In September, Transport for London proposed rules for private hire operators including a five-minute wait time between ordering a ride and it beginning, a requirement to be able to book rides seven days in advance, and banning minicab apps from showing local available cars. The rules would have applied to all minicab operators but were interpreted as a response to Uber's rise.
TfL received 16,000 responses to the consultation and over 200,000 signed Uber's petition opposing the proposals.
On Wednesday the body dropped most of the proposals. However, it said it would consider making private hire vehicles pay the congestion charge and increasing minicab licence costs for bigger companies.
"There were some ideas consulted upon that did not find widespread support and I think are not sensible," Mr Johnson said. "They’re trying to turn back the clock on technical progress, we cant disinvent the internet or apps, they're making things much easier in our city."
He said the proposal to ban cars from being shown in the app - a key feature of Uber - was "ludicrous and neanderthal".
The mayor wants to limit minicab numbers in the capital, which have risen from 59,000 to 95,000 in six years, although this would require legislation, which the government is not willing to pass.