I’ve been using Uber (and local minicabs) since their launch in Leeds a few years ago. I have a 4.8 star rating. I am not affiliated with Uber at all and this is not a paid for blog post. We do promote taxi insurance and the link is in the sidebar. As part of our research into taxi insurance we’ve had loads of chats with Uber and local taxi drivers (with me being in various states of drunkenness) and this is just some of our findings.
Ever since Uber’s launch in the UK, it has been constantly under pressure from self-serving organisations. I don’t blame the black cabs. If they can eliminate your competition under regulatory pressure then that’s means more work for them. The black cabs have a well organised and powerful union (good on them) and they are a key part of London’s transport infrastructure. There is nothing more iconic to London than the black cab.
This week Uber was in front of the House of Commons Business Committee and Rachel Reeves, my self-serving local MP, said in the FT “I don’t really buy this idea that Deliveroo and Uber go down the self-employed model because it’s so great for the workers”. Rachel, nearly every single taxi and minicab driver in this country is self-employed.
Speaking to lots of drivers, what I find Uber drivers say about driving for Uber is that they feel a lot safer. There is no cash to be stolen, they can see exactly who they are picking up and their rating by other drivers.
To quote a politically savvy friend of mine “I won’t use Uber on principle – I always use locally owned taxi firms.”
Ok, that’s fine but they are the same local drivers. Most of Uber’s drivers in Leeds are ex-Arrow or Amber drivers (two of the biggest taxi companies in Leeds), so they are just local men (I haven’t seen a female Uber driver in Leeds) with families to feed. Instead of paying Arrow or Amber for the meter (a fixed fee each week, no matter what fares they get), they pay Uber a percentage of each ride, like a referral fee. The percentage Uber takes is an argument for another day.
Uber’s licence in London was not renewed because “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks”. I could be wrong here but isn’t it the council that issue licences for minicab drivers?
Personally, I think if a driver is accused of any offense be it sexual harassment to careless driving then that driver should be suspended until an investigation is concluded. There would have to be support for false allegations and I don’t know how this could work but I’m sure someone could find a solution.
With the development of in-car technology most investigations can be concluded with in-car CCTV, the price of which has dropped significantly in recent years.
Yes, things need to change in the whole private hire sector but I think Uber only gets kicked because of its size and reputation.