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Uber is for Londoners. Black cabs are for tourists

11 June 2014

Black cab drivers are striking in London today because they are angry that Uber – a rival taxi service supported by Google – is undercutting their market. They will argue that Uber’s drivers are using a smartphone app to calculate fares, despite it being illegal for private vehicles to be fitted with taximeters.

I couldn’t care less about the intricacies of this argument (the High Court can figure that one out). All I care about is getting home safely and it not costing too much. Uber offers me that.


I’m wary of jumping into unlicensed minicabs. As those spooky tube adverts remind you, ‘If your minicab’s not booked, it’s just a stranger’s car’. But with Uber, they are booked. In fact, you get far more information about your driver than you’d ever expect to receive from a black cab driver. After you book via the efficient app, you are sent the details of your driver: name, phone number, type of car, number plate. You are also sent their rating, based on other customers’ experience (interestingly, Uber drivers are also able to rate you, and a higher rating may mean you are picked up quicker). Any driver who drops below a certain mark loses their right to use the Uber app – a level of accountability black cabs have never offered. The app also allows someone to track your ride home, and a button allows you to share your estimated arrival time with whoever you wish.

On the matter of cost, Uber is normally much cheaper than a black cab because it relies on surge pricing – free-market economics essentially. When demand is high, prices go up (during Hurricane Sandy in New York, Uber prices doubled for example; Friday nights are also more expensive). When demand is low, prices go down. I simply can’t afford regular use of black cabs, but for a lot of the time, I can afford to use Uber. A free market creates new winners, and new losers – and in this case, black cabs are the losers. They may look good on our streets, but if they ignore the need to modernise, soon they will simply become relics for tourists.

The black cab’s plight is self-made. Technology is increasingly being used to offer customers better, more reliable and cheaper options, and any industry ignores this at its peril. In the battle between iconic and innovative, it’s hard to feel too nostalgic when you’re being offered a better deal. Capitalism is alive on the roads of London – and for a 24-year-old girl trying to get round the city, that’s great news.

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  • Al

    Great article
    Man and van Grays

  • Farrukh529

    It is good but I think its not affordable for average passengers. From the last couple of month I have been using They have also their app for the ease of customers on daily basis contacts of customers

  • LeonieKester

    There are minicabs we have in store, we take you to different parts in upper Edmonton. The Minicabs in Upper Edmonton is a cab service that needs attention for you as our customer.

  • Victoria Londoner

    … while you’re out in the street, staring zombie-like into your glowing smart phone, and shivering while you wait for your smelly uber immigrant slave labour driver & five black cabs zoom past you, I’ll be instantly hailing a guy (or girl) Taxi driver who really knows London and is actually a pillar of a little thing called SOCIETY? Yeah… Black cabdrivers are actually upstanding citizens, and its a myth that uber are cheaper, believe me I have made the same journey to and from work and the black cab was cheaper so i’m not sure what planet you’re on!!! How much did uber pay you for this horrible article!?

  • Steve Jacobs
  • shiva

    An all white cast is indefensible no matter what the reasoning, be it
    regarding historical context or simply that the best auditionees
    happened not to be minorities.
    تور چینکرکره برقی

  • shiva

    And, alas, with the consent of a substantial part of the population…
    کرکره برقیدرب اتوماتیکپارتیشن

  • Geethu Rixon
  • Geethu Rixon

    hai……i want to tell some information!!!

    UK Taxi Cabs is an UK online directory run by ATEES
    Europe (UK) Ltd, providing a platform for finding taxi across UK. Our mission is to provide the citizens
    of the UK and its visitors a safe, comfortable, efficient and affordable
    taxicab experience in well-equipped.

  • Geethu Rixon

    Black cabs were the first to use the technology and have over 14000 of us signed up. the tax dodgers have a a measly 4000 and even then that split between 3 types of cars so you could be looking at around 3000 available for the cheap option.

    UK Taxi Cabs is an UK online directory run by ATEES
    Europe (UK) Ltd, providing a platform for finding taxi across UK. Our mission is to provide the citizens
    of the UK and its visitors a safe, comfortable, efficient and affordable
    taxicab experience in well-equipped.

  • Anonymous

    Re : Uber
    drove for Uber for slightly under two months and here’s what I
    found………….Uber is dangerous for public safety and must be
    shut down . Having to tap a small icon on the Uber device ( phone )
    to accept, cancel, arriving, etc., and more takes your eyes
    completely off of the road . You are oblivious to traffic for those
    few seconds your looking at your Uber device which can easily cause
    accidents resulting in immediate death & injury . Even if you,
    yourself cancels the fare you must proceed with why you are
    cancelling to the little green icons on your Uber device and doing so
    is a distraction, period . There are 6 icons on your Uber device
    requesting why your cancelling & you must select one by tapping
    on one of the icons . This is frequently done while driving diverting
    your eyes off the traffic ahead of you and this happened often …..
    the client will cancel for one reason or another . I received the
    cancellation notice while I was driving and while I was driving my
    eyes were taken off the road so I could respond to the beeping sound
    coming from my Uber device . This beeping sound indicates that the
    client has cancelled the fare . When getting close to the pick up
    location while driving you are required to notify the client by again
    having to locate your Uber device ( some of the drivers keep it on
    their lap ) then tapping on an “ arriving “ icon. This is more
    dangerous then texting .
    Furthermore, there is no time limit to
    driving . Unlike Taxi drivers who are limited to a ten hour driving
    period in, San Francisco an Uber driver can drive for 20 hours
    straight or more . Too much driving creates fatigue often leading to
    confusion, , falling asleep, hallucinations, dozing off and
    considerably more inattentiveness which can cause accidents resulting
    in injury and even death .
    Being an Uber driver means you are
    subjected to violating laws ( that were put there for public safety )
    such as take eight passengers in your car when there are only four
    seat belts or you will be FIRED by Uber . In my case I got a call to
    take nine passengers, including myself that which would have been ten
    people total all in a mini van . Because I didn’t take all
    nine passengers out to, Isla Vista from downtown Santa Barbara and
    only took the legal amount of five ( six including myself ) the
    passengers gave me a one rating . So, over safety concerns I was
    FIRED by Uber from driving for doing what was lawfully right and
    after I explained to my, Santa Barbara – Uber representatives via
    email numerous times about having to take too many passengers
    creating unsafe driving conditions so I could be reinstated my
    request was ignored . You are rated after each fare by your
    passenger(s) from one to five and if your rating is too low you will
    be FIRED . This causes drivers to violate the law in order to
    maintain a high rating or their driving privileges with Uber will be
    suspended . So, refusing to take all nine passengers ( 10 including
    myself ) because it is unlawful , dangerous and of a safety concern
    to your passengers and yourself is a reason a driver will be FIRED .
    This means failing to run red lights at customer request means you
    will be FIRED by Uber .
    There are no vehicle inspections required
    by Uber drivers meaning if your car’s brakes are failing or wipers
    not working it’s still OK to drive in the rain . Does Uber care
    your brakes are failing or wipers aren’t working ? Probally not .
    They just want their 20% share of your fare and will claim no
    responsibility if your involved in an accident because they will say
    your an independent driver . Then if a claim is put against the
    driver’s insurance Company that claim will be denied because you
    were using the vehicle commercially . It is illegal to use your
    vehicle commercially unless you get commercial registration and
    insurance . Uber drivers do not have commercial insurance and
    probally most don’t get commercial registration for their vehicles
    or the proper insurances so driving commercially for Uber is
    technically illegal . Not getting commercial plates and insurance
    means the loss of millions of dollars for all States .

  • nick

    wow, nice editing in the video. i was present at one of them interviews and the guy kept saying it’s not about uber, you show the few seconds where you dragged him to the uber debate.

    the demo was about TFL not being fit for purpose. 2 months ago a taxi spokesman was asked about our grievances and amongst the list was uber. this was picked up by both uber and the media and then turned into a ‘taxi v uber’ fight.

    you said……… “I’m wary of jumping into unlicensed minicabs. As those spooky tube
    adverts remind you, ‘If your minicab’s not booked, it’s just a
    stranger’s car”

    a passenger was recently assaulted in the states when he tried to take a photo of the uber driver’s license as it differed to the one on his phone. could drivers be lending their uber phones out? in another incident a drunk woman was taken to a hotel and claimed she was held hostage. both stories were widely reported last week in american papers but not a whisper over here.

    you said….”a level of accountability black cabs have never offered”

    we have 2 very large signs with our license numbers clearly visible, front and back. we cannot obscure these through tinted glass as minicabs do with there tiny roundels. our licenses are visible from the roadside and all complaints are taken very seriously. however uber claim not to be a taxi provider and insist any complaint/issues are between the driver and the customer.

    there. you dragged me in too.

  • Stu H

    it seems to me the media have really misunderstood and misreported the situation so i thought i’d try and clear it up for you

    black cabs were the first to embrace the app technology and have over 15000 cabs using GetTaxi and the backstabbing hailo.the tax dodgers have a measly 4000 along with an 850% more downloads yesterday from what i hearing so a lot less availablity

    so black cabs not embracing technology is a lie!

    i numerously come up with far quicker and cheaper routes than google satnav which imagine is used by the tax dodgers as google own a huge percentage of the company. Yesterday i saved someone 10 mins and around 30% using my knowledge as opposed to the google satnav rubbish

    black cabs have had competition since the 60’s from minicabs so this is nothing new

    competition is not the issue, it’s that TFL have allowed Uber to carry on breaking the law which due to a loophole

    the loophole is because the smartphone meter uber use is not attached to the car this is therefore not ilegal. A simple rule change to make the smartphone meter ilegal and all would be well.

    instead TFL have now asked for the high court to make a ruling.

    • No Good Boyo

      If Uber is exploiting a loophole, they’re not breaking the law. And if your current systems are effective, I don’t understand why you’re complaining.

      Why should the rules be changed, making the smart phone meter illegal, just to keep black cabs in business, to the detriment of the public? That’s one of the most-regressive, anti-business suggestions I’ve heard in a long time.

      I hope to God the high court throws it out. They certainly should do. I have competitors. They’re constantly working to find ways to take business away from me, and I’m constantly working to take business from them. This endless game (and don’t imagine it’s cut-throat — I’m on friendly terms with many of my competitors) is one of the major reasons business is such a fascinating way of making a living.

      If one of my competitors suddenly finds a fabulous way of grabbing my customers, do you think I respond by organising a strike and a rally? Or try to get them shut down?

      No, I learn from them. I look long and hard at what they’re doing, find a way to do it better, and then implement that.

      Competition is good. It makes you raise your game. It makes your business better, stronger, more effective. I don’t fear competition. It’s actually one of the most exciting things about being in business. I’ve been in business long enough to recognise the benefits it gives me, and to be aware of how much my business has improved thanks to what my competitors have taught me.

  • neg

    I was recommended the Addison Lee ap. Always thought they were for business and expensive. The £35 fare home in a black cab, give or take £5 is £23.50. Very surprised. If you want to save money and want a new car with such “mod cons” as air conditioning difficult to beat. They don’t seem to be getting the press but its a fixed price regardless of route or traffic.

  • Puss in Plimsolls

    Interesting: thanks.

  • answeeney

    do uber cabs take dogs?

  • Sam

    The best drivers are embracing the move towards servicing tourists.

    Something Uber drivers can’t compete on is an authentic experience around the capital.

    Take a look at the best ones here:

  • A. S. H.

    Black cabs are pretty good, but as a Londoner I rarely use them. They need to adapt to modern times/technology & if they do not learn from Uber’s practices will become an anachronism or just something (else) for tourists to be photographed next to.

  • Jupiter

    Cabbies will be really stuffed when driverless cars are finally invented.

  • Kennybhoy

    “I simply can’t afford regular use of black cabs…”


  • MC73

    When I lived in London i used black cabs a lot, alongside one good private hire firm for airport jobs. Now on trips back I still use black cabs plus the occasional Addison Lee. When I go back this summer I will probably add Uber to the mix.

    Overall I like black cabs; However, cabbies, you are going to have to adapt, you can’t rely on moaning and restrictive practices. A rival app owned by a cabbie cooperative sounds sensible and I would use it (if other apps are mixing minicabs with taxis I wouldn’t use them). You have to promote yourselves, not go on strike and via that promote your rivals.

    As I can see it the advantages are: safety, fixed fares at peak times, space & comfort (basic uber is a poxy Prius with no room in the back) and that the knowledge very often trumps the satnav.

    I value all that, but I’m not sentimental about it. You need to persuade people that you are still the best option and if you aren’t…

  • bugshead

    It’s fantastic news. The black cabs are ridiculously priced (especially at night, and if they can be bothered to stop for you) and the drivers all expect large tips. I can no longer afford to take black cabs and always take licensed taxi’s where possible. I back Uber to break this horrible cartel, and it makes perfect sense to me. Let the black cab drivers switch to Uber !

  • Mr X

    Here it is. Uber is here to stay. It has a massive pr machine it. it probably wont pay any tax ( which large corporation does?) but that wont stop people from using it.
    I’ve had my fair share of good and bad taxi cabs and good and bad mini cabs.

    I tend to choose mini cabs after a night out ( i’m a bloke my safety concerns per se are minimal) solely based on cost. I know where i’m going but a sat nav device provides sufficient direction to get me to my destination. This talk of customer service is a red herring. uber customers rater thier drivers and drivers rate thier customers. it’s a win win. if you are a drunken lout and abusive on a a night out to your uber driver expect a downgrade and difficulty being picked up next time. likewise if enough people downgrade the driver hes off thier books. Quite frankly in mini cabs and taxis you don’t have this immediate option.

    I used black cabs when i’m in a hurry and need to get to A to B. ( but for the life of me can’t get one when its raining!) Usually I get one quickly. but i’m aware that i’m paying more. if i can do the same using the uber app i will.

    Those less technically minded ( and there a loads of people who aren’t) will not use uber or will forget to. People will still use cabs, tourists especially, so the black cab business isn’t going to die just yet.

    The model is simply changing, like it did when minicabs first appeared, like it did when Addison Lee first appeared.

    Black cab drivers i understand you pay a fortune, you lose earning whilst gaining the knowledge you have the insurance on your car and you have to buy that specially made vehicle.

    But here’s the thing. Punters dont care what personal costs you have incur. The same punters who don’t think dolphins should be killed and still want cheap cans of tuna.

    So focus on tourists, and those older people 45+ but understand that the genie is out of the bottle. Anything else is denial. And like the rest of us in like who are bound by the same market forces, you evolve or die.

    • Mark Priestland

      Lol, older people 45+ ??? You were probably still in short trousers when I had my fist mobile phone, PC etc. Cheeky whippersnapper.

  • chips9584

    What Londoners are these then? Because it certainly isn’t me. You certainly aren’t even allowed to begin doing The Knowledge if you have any kind of criminal record. Also, the individual exams are designed to test a potential cabbie’s temperament and restraint. If at any point a candidate loses their temper they are immediately thrown out. There are reasons it takes more than three years for most to finish.

    “In fact, you get far more information about your driver than you’d ever expect to receive from a black cab driver. After you book via the efficient app, you are sent the details of your driver: name, phone number, type of car, number plate.”

    I must have missed that number plate, licence plate, ID numbers in the front and back
    windscreens and shiny green badge EVERY black cab is required by law to
    have displayed. The black cabbie wont have your phone number either. A little Google search of “Uber” and “Sexual Harrassment” should help their cause as well. If you would rather use Uber when alone at 3am and you need to get home after you’ve had one too many beverages….. Good luck to you.

  • Stu H

    So when Uber has corned the market and there are no more black cabs, do you think the price of an Uber will stay the same or rise?

    sounds to me like it’ll end up going the same way as the energy companies.

    Uber sounds like a great deal now but when the Black cabs are gone the prices will go up!

    Also Ubers customer service is pretty much non existant from what i’ve heard!

    • Hexhamgeezer

      But the black cabs can compete surely? I’ve got nowt against them and used them a lot but this Uber lark, especially for women and youngsters looks the biz.

      • Stu H

        some lady who got in a my cab the other day told me how she use to use minicabs but got sick of all the flirtacious comments.

        • P_S_W

          Then she should have complained about the driver.
          Or are you insinuating that all Uber drivers behave in this manner? And no black cab driver has ever?

      • nick

        unlike taxis, they don’t allow children to travel unaccompanied. i’m sure they trust their drivers though.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Yep that is how markets work. If Uber forces the Black cabs out of business and puts their prices up then somebody else will enter the market and undercut Uber. It is all about satisfying customer demand. Every business that focuses on supplier demand is not long for this World. Ask the miners, printers, ship builders, British Leyland car workers etc etc if you want proof of that thesis.

    • No Good Boyo

      So why don’t black cabs cut their prices?

      • nick

        we don’t set our prices, the major does.

  • Saddo

    Don’t forget the poor tourist at Heathrow who wants a black cab to go to Windsor or anywhere west. Either its an off meter fortune or a no as black cabs only cover the “London” area.

  • nicktabs

    Great article and spot on. Although all this makes me wonder why after years in London I can always get where I want by tube or bus rather than any expensive taxi but others can’t, clearly missing something.

  • No Good Boyo

    So nobody can get a black cab in London. Do you think Uber’s management has stopped laughing yet?

    Talk about sticking your foot in your mouth. I’d never heard of Uber before this, but it sounds like a great idea. I don’t think I’ll be bothering with black cabs again.

    Who needs a cabbie with The Knowledge these days anyway, when private drivers all have SatNavs these days?

    • Stu H

      I think Uber’s management will continue to laugh when there tax bill comes in!

      Not to mention when they double and treble prices at busy times!

      I took someone from Clerkenwell to Bow the other day who told me what he thought the quickest route which was the same route given by the satnav. I talked him into going my way and ended up getting there for 18 quid as opposed to the 22-24 quid he usually paid the satnav way. saved him 5 mins too.

      got to love those satnavs!

      • No Good Boyo

        What’s wrong with raising your prices at busy times?

        • paddylaz


          In fact, there’s nothing wrong with raising your prices at ANY time, could be just as harmful as it could be profitable. As a company you stay competitive, and you adapt….or you die.

          This is what the black cabbies are failing to understand. And this thing they have planned today? A backfire of galactic proportions.

          • Stu H

            so when the old pensioner just been to the theatre suddenly gets wacked with a cab bill 4 times the norm thats ok is it?

            • Inverted Meniscus

              What a ridiculous argument. The pensioner has gone to the theatre as a matter of choice. He elects to return home by taxi as a matter of choice. Should the cost of a taxi be a major issue the smart person or pensioner might decide to go to the Wednesday matinee when fares are cheaper. Once again it is a matter of choice.

              • No Good Boyo

                Some might suggest that someone who can afford a West End theatre ticket is probably not going to complain too much about a cab fare home.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  That was my immediate thought but such silliness demanded a more robust response I thought.

                • Stu H

                  a cab fare 4 times the norm, are you serious?

                • No Good Boyo

                  She doesn’t have to pay it if she doesn’t want to.

            • No Good Boyo

              Of course it’s okay. It’s one of the costs of the evening, along with the ice cream, the G&T, and possibly dinner at a restaurant close by.

              If she needs to economise, she could try getting a seat in the matinee performance — most theatres have them, precisely for people like pensioners.

              Or she could get the night bus, but I think most pensioners recognise that convenience comes at a price. Their generation didn’t have the same sense of entitlement that seems to characterise our society these days.

              Or she could see if she can’t get a lift with somebody. My mother certainly has no qualms about demanding favours off us kids. She maintains it’s the least we can do following all those nappy changes, tantrums, meals and adolescence.

              Nor do I think it’s a sensible idea to play King Canute with new technology just for the sake of pandering to a small segment of the market.

        • Stu H

          trust me when you have to to pay 4 and 5 times you won’t be asking that question.

          the root of all evil is the desire of money?

          why should rich people have an advantage in getting a cab home?

          • No Good Boyo

            Why should rich people have an advantage in getting a Learjet? Or travelling first class, when they get better service than they would in standard class?

            What’s money for if not to make one’s life comfortable. Do you enjoy a higher standard of living than, say, an African in a mud hut? Do you appreciate your tv? your computer? hot and cold running water? not having to trot out to a hole at the back of the garden whenever you need the toilet? Would you rather live in a cave instead?

            If the root of all evil is the desire for money, why don’t you cut your prices?

          • you_kid

            Brilliant – keep going.

            • No Good Boyo

              It is? “Brilliant”? I thought it was rather stupid, actually.

              • you_kid

                If the real cause is to make cabs available at peak times to an exclusive clientele then why not just say so?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …hmmmm, and what does your army of sockpuppets say about it, lad?

                • No Good Boyo

                  The real cause is to is to encourage some customers to use the cabs at quieter times, thus reducing the pressure on the service.

                  If you knew much about economics, which I don’t think you do, you’d be aware of the fundamental maxim that things will always be rationed; if not by price, then by availability.

                • you_kid

                  That’s what I just stated elsewhere – price vs. availabilty.
                  Kill off those who cannot compete (and exclude those who cannot afford) and then drive price in peak times. Well done, you finally got it! Classic economics 101.

                • No Good Boyo

                  Well, you might drive the less-enterprising out of business. The more-enterprising will adapt and survive. It’s all very Darwinian.

                  But the practice you describe is associated with monopolies, like the black cabs used to have (or, more correctly, an oligopoly), which is what you would have if one business drove all the others out.

                  However, assuming you have a genuinely free market, new competitors will appear if you raise your prices too much. In fact, here’s a rather less-well known principle of economics: profits are increased primarily by reducing costs, not by raising prices.

                  Are you even reading past the first paragraph of my posts, by the way?

                • you_kid

                  NGB, we summerise:
                  – numbers of (self-employed) cabs on the roads will be reduced in favour of corporatisation.
                  – prices will go up without evidence of rising standards, ergo profits rise.
                  – competition will not increase as the one-against-all model IS already competition max.
                  – demand will be levelled out to serve as you outline.

                  I will leave it to those with an opinion to decide whether or not that’s a good thing.

                • No Good Boyo

                  1. Not necessarily. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing if they do. Corporations are typically more profitable and efficient. and if all the corporations were replaced by millions and millions of SME’s, the country would be bankrupt, because corporations pay far more tax than the SME’s.

                  2. Raise your prices too high in a free market, and somebody will come along and undercut you. Which is precisely what’s happening between the black cabs and Uber.

                  3. That hasn’t happened with the trains, has it? For all the criticism (much of it entirely justified, in my experience), train travel is more popular now than it has been since the nineteenth century.

                  You’re not reading past the first paragraph, are you.

                • you_kid

                  4. You keep saying that, why?
                  3. I know of far far far better train travel elsewhere. guess where? Guess who owns it?
                  2. no it will not. that happened with buses everywhere in this country until people died and then the undercutting stopped.
                  1. that corporate tax bill I would like to see. you work for starbucks/amazon/google, admit it.

                • No Good Boyo

                  4. Good to see. I wasn’t sure.

                  3. So do I. What of it? The point is that high pricing does not necessarily to a reduction of demand. It used to be said that demand relied on three factors. These days, economists have identified about thirteen factors influencing demand. Again, this is something you’d understand if you’d studied economics to any substantial degree.

                  2. I don’t know much of the bus industry, although I do know that fares are regulated. I certainly don’t remember anything about people dying. It certainly works in the airline industry, doesn’t it? They’re permanently at each other’s throats, and prices can be very, very low. But airplanes aren’t falling out of the sky as a result.

                  1. You can see it easily enough. Google it. And no, I don’t work for Google, Amazon or Starbucks, but I don’t see how that’s relevant

                • gunnerbear

                  Err…outside of London, bus fares and services are utterly deregulated.

                  “But airplanes aren’t falling out of the sky as a result.”

                  Due to incredibly stringent regulations and the massive costs of a failure – both in terms of lives lost and the financial impact. Let alone the reputational damage to a company if their aircraft is lost.

                  The very harsh and tight regulations were of course demanded by the public when planes were being lost on a regular basis. Incidentally, the NATS is also fully underwritten by the taxpayer.

                • No Good Boyo

                  Err…outside of London, bus fares and services are utterly deregulated.

                  What utter nonsense! You clearly don’t go outside London much.

                • gunnerbear

                  This suggests to seem otherwise….


                  Err….I don’t live in London. One of the reasons London has such a good transport system is that for one reason or another, HMG never de-regulated services in London…..but were happy to wreck services elsewhere.

                  “The point is that those safety systems do not prevent the airlines from constantly reducing their costs in the battle for customers.”
                  And one of the easiest ways for the companies is to make working conditions, pay and pensions worse for their workers.

                • Flintshire Ian

                  Its called the Easy Jet model. As adopted and refined by pretty well all of the leisure and transport industries who can pay for the technology. Which I believe was originally designed by a UK university.

                • dalai guevara

                  I like the Easy Jet model, it shakes up existing cartels and renders the hub model ad absurdum.
                  What does this do?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …what do you and all your army of sockpuppets do, besides constantly troll this site with your socialist nutter gibberish?

                • dalai guevara

                  You don’t understand aviation planning, lad? You do not grasp what goes on between Willie W and Michael O’L?
                  What do you do all day – sell overpriced foreign nuclear power to the plebs, flashing tv screens, with occasional ecstatic spasms when trolling after me on this site?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …can any other of you socialist nutters translate this nutter’s gibberish?

          • Kennybhoy

            Actually it’s

            “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

          • B0YC0TT

            If that’s how you feel sunshine, feel free to spend your spare time offering cab rides free to poor people.

            • Stu H

              have done many times to those on low wage but essential jobs

        • you_kid

          it’s completely made up! That element of competition is a red herring – it does not exist.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …it won’t when you fascists get through, that’s true.

          • No Good Boyo

            What’s completely made up? Raising prices at peak periods?

            Are you talking about taxis specifically, or business in general?

            • you_kid

              I have spoken of no other than the uber pricing model. Did you discuss other things? I hope not.

              • No Good Boyo

                You’re an aggressive person, aren’t you? I asked a simple question, trying to understand what you’re talking about. Why the circumlocution?

                I still don’t know what element of competition is a red herring — the Uber pricing model? Are you saying that Uber don’t raise their prices at peak times? I’m sure you have a point, but you’re making no sense at all.

                • you_kid

                  forget aggression, forget other diversions, please focus and stick to the point. Uber’s pricing regime appears entirely arbitrary as I stated above, three times now.

                • No Good Boyo

                  I wouldn’t know. I’ve never used it. But it seems popular, and it’s certainly scaring the bejesus out of the black cabs. I don’t think I really care about its “arbitrariness” under those circumstances.

                • you_kid

                  oh you don’t now? Dear me, NGB, you really are pushing it now.

                  So you admit that arbitrary pricingi in peak times are possibly designed to offset losses in standrd time to kill off market share? Economics 101, lad.

                • No Good Boyo

                  I’ve done Economics 101, thank you very much. If you had, you’d be aware that services will always be rationed; if not by price, then by availability. Hence peak-time pricing. I think I was taught that in my second day of Economics 101.

                  It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. When supply outstrips demand, the price falls. When demand outstrips supply, price rises. I learned that on my very first day in Economics 101.

                • you_kid


                • No Good Boyo

                  That’s the most thoughtful and insightful riposte you can conceive of, is it?

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  I’m amazed you have had the patience to follow any of his gibberish. He pollutes this site with an army of ‘sock puppets’ (Dalai Guevara, Goatmince, Dado Trunking, you Kid etc etc) and makes oblique, strange comments in a sad effort to make himself look erudite and wise. He is of course simply spouting unintelligible gibberish.

                • No Good Boyo

                  And hence all the circumlocution? It hadn’t occurred to me that he was simply trying to make himself sound scholarly. I thought he was just lousy at explaining himself, or maybe that he’d had a really good sesh down the pub earlier.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  He doesn’t have the brains to open a pub door and thus it is just natural gibberish and inadequacy.

                • B0YC0TT

                  The Uber pricing feeds through to their drivers. Thus higher prices at peak times results in more drivers making themselves available at peak times.

                • you_kid

                  Oh what bliss! That does not happen already?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …not sure, have you asked your army of sockpuppets, laddie?

                • nick

                  it doesn’t mean more drivers available. uber doesn’t ring and let them know it’s busy. it just means more money for those already at work.

        • Dan Grover

          Not to mention the fact that black cabs have their rates rise when it’s busy, too – though the “business” is predefined.

          • Stu H

            yeah so thats an extra 10% from 8 till 10 and then the normal plus 20% after 10 at night which some say is unsociable working hours.

            put that up against the 200%, 300%, 400 % rise Uber will hit you with at a busy time

          • nick

            not true. the two rush hours of every day are during the rate 1 tariff.

  • paulthorgan

    This issue is merely to do with a technology-created loophole. Taxi meters are merely highly specialised computers allied to the human database of ‘the knowledge’. Uber appears to automate this human-machine hybrid.

    The law can either adjust to eliminate this development as a viable competitor or will capitulate. If it tries to hold back technology then technology will merely find another loophole.

    This does remind me of the effective banning of recumbent bicycles in the 1930s by the same folks whose successors in office failed to uncover Lance Armstrong’s cheating.

  • johnbarnes

    I like that every black cab must be wheelchair accessible. This is surely required in a modern, civilised city like London. No Uber car I’ve ever used has been wheelchair accessible. We must be careful not to take a step backwards in this respect (although as the blog says, much of Uber’s offering is very appealing)

  • BigAl

    Why don’t black cabs set up their own app or join Uber? The Uber app and what it provides sounds great.

    • No Good Boyo

      Because most Brits think that the best resolution for any problem is to sit around whining. Whining is like a magic incantation. Whine long and loud enough, and the problem will miraculously go away.

      But while you’re whining, don’t overlook the need to repeat the religious mantra: “Somebody should do something about this!”

      • rugby god

        #BritishValues right there!

  • Lee Harris

    The author has obviously not used Hailo or any radio circuit taxi. Also London cabbioes study the knowledge for 4 years and the uber drivers use sat navs

    • No Good Boyo

      What’s wrong with SatNavs?

      The cabbies need to read up on the Luddites.

    • Maurice_Gosfield

      Well, you could argue that satnavs have made The Knowledge an irrelevance. As long as the driver gets me to my destination in the shortest possible time and at the best possible price, then I’m a happy punter.

      • Stu H

        while the minicab driver is still typing in your address i’ll already be driving

        minicabs will no doubt drive the satnav route which definately isn’t always the quickest and cheapest!

  • swatnan

    D*****land uber Alles? No. Balckcabs are reasonably safe compared to other forms of hire.

    • No Good Boyo

      I’ve never been involved in an accident with a private hire.

      • Stu H

        go speak to an insurance company claims department. the ratio between black cab and mini cab claims are huge.

        costs about 1000 for black cab insurance of a much more expensive vehicle

        costs minicabs 2000 – 4000

        I wonder why?

        • No Good Boyo

          I’m not suggesting you’re wrong. Just that I don’t think private-hire safety is such a problem that it’s worth paying all that extra to avoid. But you pay your money and you take your choice. If it’s such a concern for you, go right ahead and pay the premium fare.

        • P_S_W

          Is it directly related to the number of black cabs vs mini cabs on the road by any chance?

  • jazz606

    Yes well, you either adapt or die. The cabbies had better wake up. Maybe the smarter ones are signing up with Uber.

    • Stu H

      Black Cabs can’t sign up to Uber.

      I woke up a long time ago. Hailo was the black cab app which has now stabbed drivers in the back in offering minicabs. A new non profit app is in the making run by a co operative of Black cab drivers

      Uber is huge american corporation all about making money. You think these guys will pay tax on the 20% they take from the drivers

      It’s owned by google and goldman sacs

      In america they take on anyone who has a car insure them under group insurance. then at peak times wack up the price 3 4 5 times more

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Do you think the average passenger gives a fig about any of that?

        • Stu H

          sadly your right it seems not enough people do these days.

          • No Good Boyo

            You really are convinced that we owe you a living, aren’t you? Is this a general consensus among cabbies? Is that why you thought you could snarl up the centre of London and hand your rivals more free publicity than they ever dreamed of, and the general public would say, “Oh dear, let’s all pay premium fares to keep those poor drivers according to the lifestyle to which they’re accustomed”?

            You’re a business, for crying out loud! You already enjoy significant regulatory advantages over Uber drivers: you’re the only private vehicles permitted to use bus lanes; you’re the only taxis permitted to pick passengers from the kerbside when hailed. But despite this, you still can’t compete, and so you’re demanding even more protections!

            You need to wake up, sharpish, and learn how to be a businessman. If I didn’t find ways to compete with my rivals, I’d go out of business too, like every other businessman in the country. There’s nothing special about you.

            • Stu H

              i was talking about the tax dodging

              i don’t for 1 minute think anyone owes me a living

              • ButcombeMan

                The cabbies who tax dodge are the ones who live in Spain but retain their cabbies license, fly home now and again, rent a cab by the week, make a few bob then return from whence they came. The smart ones even operate in pairs to keep the cab on the road all the time while it is hired.

                See, even Cabbies tax dodge..

              • No Good Boyo

                In the first place, you know nothing about their tax affairs. You could well be libling them, for all you know.

                In the second, I couldn’t give a toss about their tax arrangements. I want a cab to drive me from A to B as conveniently as possible, as cheaply as possible. There endeth my interest. Whatever their accountant does is up to them, and no concern to me whatever.

      • Chris H

        Black cabs can sign up to Uber today – they just launched UberTaxi.

        • Stu H


          • No Good Boyo

            I’m sorry? Uber is gutting your business. Someone tells you that you can benefit from a new version specifically for people like you. And your response is contempt?

            Speaking as a small businessman myself, I find that astonishing! You don’t deserve to be in business! When somebody points you to a possible solution to your problems, the least you should do is check it out. Good God, what do you think you’re running — a business or a religion?

            • dalai guevara

              you have NEVER used uber once as you declared yourself, yet you are really rattled by their ‘appeal’ aren’t you? Why is that?

              • No Good Boyo

                Rattled? How do you figure that? Everything I hear sounds like Uber is terrific. I have every intention of using them in the future.

                • dalai guevara

                  Of course you do, especially in peak hours I am guessing when the price is right for a honest man’s honest day’s work.

                • No Good Boyo

                  I’m sorry, I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re going on about. I think you’re trying to sneer, under the impression that your rapier wit will make the point more forceful. The reality is that it just makes your point incomprehensible.

                  Are you one of you_kid’s sock puppets?

                • dalai guevara

                  I am not sneering. I am attempting to get to the bottom of why a person that has as yet never used the service spends such immense effort on declaring its allegiance to somthing he has not yet tested, used, seen at work, see deliver, see what it does. Forcefully you make your point. You could have an undeclared interest for all that we know. That is what my earlier comments implied, correct. And you have not answered that – will you do that now?

                • No Good Boyo

                  I see. So you think I must be a member of Uber’s senior management trying to talk up my product? I don’t think I could imagine a means of PR likely to be less effective and such a great waste of time. Perhaps you think these comment arguments actually change people’s opinions?

                  Have I especially talked up Uber? If so, it’s inadvertent. Business is what interests me. It’s what I do. It’s what I studied and qualified in. It’s what interests me. And I am startled by the apparent lack of business nous of black cabbies.

                  It seems they’ve enjoyed a comfortable oligopoly, that brought them a very nice living without trying very hard at all, that they’ve lost any business instincts that they ever possessed. And now a competitor has arrived to challenge their dominance, they are utterly bewildered and clueless what to do about it.

                  So they go on strike, and snarl up the centre of London, and do their damnedest to attract all the sympathy they can get. Apparently, they imagine that the country is full of charitable types who will shun Uber and pay extra just because black cabs are such an institution.

                  They’re very successful in their protest. It’s nationwide news. And now everybody in the country knows all about Uber, what it does, how to access it, and that it can reduce their cab fares substantially in London. And not one black cabbie thought of this drawback????

                  The only result of their strike is that Uber’s downloads shot up by 850 percent yesterday, which must rank as one of the most-rapid expansions in history. If the black cabbies were bashing their heads on the table this morning, that would have been understandable. But Stu H, in another post, seems to relish it! he seems to think this will cause Uber terrible problems, and it hasn’t occurred to him that other minicab drivers will now come flocking to Uber.

                  It’s an extraordinary naivety about how business works. Truly fascinating! And that’s why I’m so interested.

                • dalai guevara

                  Thank you for your response.
                  i note you have declared your interest in ‘business’ and appear to believe that a set of individual and self-employed cabbies constitute an oligopoly. That is not just only complete conflation of what the bascis of business ought to have taught you, that dear boyo, is outright dogmatic nonsense. i wonder who taught you such nonsense – your business schooling?

                  Jesus Christ!

                • No Good Boyo

                  You what? F#ck off, you insolent tw@t.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Yes, that socialist nutter is one of the nutty sockpuppets.

                • No Good Boyo

                  I thought I recognised the circumlocutory style!

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  It’s not hard to recognize. It’s getting so I can spot this troll the moment one of its sockpuppets crops up.

                • Stu H

                  i hope you’ve got a lot of patience, i heard the uber downloads have increased by 850%

                • No Good Boyo

                  I’d be astonished if Uber hasn’t been swamped with applications from minicab drivers. This could be the single largest business expansion in history! Hasn’t it occurred to you that these are taxi customers who won’t be using your services any more?

                  With all the publicity, you can rest assured Uber will be getting more downloads today. Did you know Uber offers £10 credit to anybody who gets a friend to sign up?

                  You seem blissfully unaware of the damage you’ve done to yourselves! Are your views representative of the black cab drivers generally?

            • Stu H

              Black cabs were the first to use the technology and have over 14000 of us signed up. the tax dodgers have a a measly 4000 and even then that split between 3 types of cars so you could be looking at around 3000 available for the cheap option.

              • No Good Boyo

                So what are you complaining about then?

      • No Good Boyo

        I never imagined Uber was a charity. But as long as it gets me from A to B relatively efficiently and inexpensively, I really don’t care. I’m more than happy for people to make a profit if, in doing so, the make my life simpler, easier and more comfortable. Not least because I know they probably wouldn’t bother if they didn’t make a profit.

        You make a profit making people’s lives more convenient, don’t you? I’m sure you don’t think that’s wrong.

        I really not interested in their tax arrangements either, and I’m certainly not going to boycott them because I think they might be avoiding tax. I wouldn’t dream of paying more tax than I have to either; partly because I know that so much of it is going to be handed out to teenage slatterns who can’t keep their legs together, or simply p!ssed against the wall.

        • Stu H

          sounds like it all all about you then!

          • No Good Boyo

            I don’t owe you a living.

            Your problem is that for years, you cabbies have been operating a cosy little cartel in which you get to fix your prices and pretty much any level you want, while providing a very basic service, standing around in cab ranks and waiting for business to come to you.

            Now, you’ve got an aggressive, eager new competitor who seeks out the business, and you cabbies have no idea what to do about it. The rules of your cartel prevent you doing likewise, but the cartel doesn’t work any more.

            So what’s the response of complacent oligopolists? Try to shut down the competition! Make it go away, and hopefully, you can all go back to your happy, lazy, complacent ways, fobbing off the customers with a second-rate service for sky-high prices.

            Sorry, sweetheart, but that ain’t gonna happen. The technology’s here already. You might be able to hold it off for a few years, while making yourselves massively unpopular with the public, but you’ll never fend it off forever. Nobody ever does.

            The good times are over, and now, you’re going to have to act like businessmen. The sooner you people figure that out, the better it will be for you.

            • Stu H

              I don’t belive it right and just for a

      • Jean de Valette

        Blaming america won’t change the fact that London Black cabs grossly overcharge for the service that they provide.
        The Knowledge was indeed an great asset until the arrival of not only (admittedly imperfect) SatNav but also of the Smartphone, with its many interactive maps, ‘geo’ apps etc.

        I don’t care who owns Uber so long as they provide a solid, reliable and accountable service for a fair price.

        To use anti-Americanism in order to defend the shameless protectionism on show today is indicative of just how shallow & greedy is the Black Cab strikers’ so-called “cause”.

      • jazz606

        If you really want to kick Google and Goldman in the slats stop whining, beef up your own app and discount that 20% Uber charge.
        Because your current activities will be the end of you.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Yes incredible isn’t it; they think that driving around London slowly will halt the rise of technology. I seem to recall, shipbuilders, printers, car workers, coal miners etc etc believing the Sam and where are they now?

      • No Good Boyo

        In about the same place as the hand-loom operators who protested against the introduction of the “Spinning Jenny”. They thought they could forcibly prevent the introduction of new technology. All they achieved was to introduce to the English language a euphemism for backward-looking people who fear change: Luddites.

    • you_kid

      a call for a level playing field?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …big enough for all your sockpuppets?

        • Inverted Meniscus

          That wouldn’t be a playing field it would be Canada.

  • you_kid

    Black cabs more expensive than private hire? Not where I live.
    I love it how ‘free’ markets work – why can’t we have more people begging for business?

    • No Good Boyo

      But … but … but … that’s competition!!!!! If we have every business provider struggling ever harder to undercut his competitors while simultaneously improving his standards of service, you’ll end up with a race to the bottom! And then there’ll be a financial crisis, where everybody will go out of business, and then there just won’t be any cabs available at all!

      No, no, a much better solution is to regulate. Eliminate competition. Create an unyielding bureaucracy that emasculates the consumers and renders them impotent. That way, there’ll be no Uber, and the black cabbies will be able to demand what they consider a fair price, ensuring the public always has access to cabs.

      It’s called “oligopoly,” and it’s wonderful. After all, we deal endlessly with oligopolies, from energy providers, to the trains, to our political system, so they must be good.

      • you_kid

        so a ‘race to the bottom’ must not be ‘regulated’ away by all means necessary?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …not sure. What does your army of sockpuppets say, lad?

          • you_kid

            avoid rtb
            keep regs to a minimum
            allow for competition

            “Black cabs more expensive than private hire? Not where I live.”

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …can any other of you socialist nutters translate this gibberish?

              • you_kid

                yes we can, troll – it’s as follows:

                keep regs to a minimum
                allow for competition
                avoid rtb

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …and have a go at translating this gibberish too, while you socialist nutters are at it.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                No its uber gibberish.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …well done.

        • No Good Boyo

          Only in government is it called a “race to the bottom.” In business, it’s called “competition”, and it’s the reason, for example, that you spend about 30 percent of your income on food, although your grandparents were spending about 70 percent of their income on food.

          • you_kid

            so ‘competition’ must be de’regulated’ at all cost to avoid a ‘race to the bottom’?

            come on, which way now, you are almost there …

            • La Fold

              Are you really that dense or are you being deliberately obtuse?

              The state says regulation is required to avoid “a race to the bottom”. In business its not seen as a race to the bottom at all its called competition. You either provide better goods and services for either the same price or a lower price than your competitors otherwise people will take their custom to your competitors that do.

              • you_kid

                … unless of course it is a race to the bottom without regulation.

                • La Fold

                  But im saying it is not a race to the bottom without deregulation. In fact i believe when it comes to providing goods and services in the market there is no race to the bottom. It does not exist. Its a straw man argument you keep resurrecting instead of answering the points being made. Once you have undercut the competition to a certain point either your service suffers and people wont use it anymore and your business fails. Or if you undercut so much that you make a loss, your business fails. What happens then? Do people just stop wanting and using taxis? Of course they dont.

                • you_kid

                  The rtb always exists, in every single part of market acitivity.

                  The question is entirely whether we today find ourselves in a overpriced scenario or whether we do not. A black cab can compete with ‘deregulated’ service providers? How?

                  It remains to be proven that a rtb can be avoided, otherwise standards will drop not increase. This is of course a complex affair but at first sight it appears yet again that a ‘competition’ argument is used to shake up a market that delivers a service that is satisfactory. If that service is not satisfactory, then it remains to be proven that this introduction of so-called competition (it’s not) will better the product.

                  My hunch is it will not as all you are doing it talking about price. So it is a classic rtb.


                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …so when do you socialist nutters plan on rounding up those uber people for your reeducation camps, lad?

              • Inverted Meniscus

                Both he is utterly dense and totally obtuse. He thinks his gibberish makes him appear clever and erudite. It doesn’t.

            • No Good Boyo

              Huh? This is going over your head like an Airbus, isn’t it?

              Competition and the “race to the bottom” are the same thing. It’s just that the latter expression is used by lazy politicians who would sooner shove their hands deeper into your pockets rather than trim their expenses, or finding more-efficient ways of providing their services.

              An afterthought to the example I provided above about food prices: Although your grandparents spent a greater proportion of their income on food than you do, you are not substantially better off because the government is taxing you far more heavily than it ever did your grandparents. This is the result of politicians burbling brainlessly “a race to the bottom”.

              By contrast, commercial businesses, having no choice but to live in the real world, just get on with trimming their expenses and improving their quality.

              • you_kid

                Yes, I fully understand that what you just outlined there has nothing to do with Black Cabs vs uber. There is no ‘government tax option’ in this instance.

                There is only a ‘fake competiton’ option which will lead to … you will have guessed by now … a ‘race to the bottom’ end game. It will lower not increase service unless proven otherwise, it will increase not lower the price unless proven otherwise. I explained that further in my response to la fold below.

                • No Good Boyo

                  I haven’t a clue what “fake” competition is. Either you have competition or you don’t.

                  But what’s the difference between Tesco and Asda battling it out, and British Airways and Virgin Atlantic battling it out, or EasyJet and Ryanair battling it out, and black cabs and minicabs battling it out?

                  Tesco and Asda are doing reasonably well for themselves, despite the “race to the bottom”. And why should black cabs have a specially protected status, to the detriment of the public?

                  Another example: Black cabs were expensive, so along came Uber, undercutting them. As a result, as Stu H says elsewhere, black cabs are now developing their own app. That’s competition. A threat emerges, so business ups its game and finds a way to counter the threat.

                  But since the technology was available, why didn’t the black cabs develop this new app just for the pleasure of serving their customers more effectively? The public doesn’t owe black cabs a living.

                • you_kid

                  ok, I will try it the other way round:

                  are black cabs paid too much for their service?
                  are they overregulated?
                  are they a cartel?

                  if the answer to all of these questions is negative then
                  why fix it?

                  if the answer to one of those questions is positive, then fix it.

                  if the answer to all of those questions is positive then facilitate a level playing field.

                  What is the purpose of one-sided deregulation?
                  Lower standards by lowering price and breaking up existing SME.


                • No Good Boyo

                  It would appear they’re paid too much for their service. Otherwise, Uber wouldn’t be so popular. Fix it? It’s getting fixed — by Uber’s existence, which is forcing black cabs to design their own app to compete.

                  The result is better, more-efficient service for the customers, and lower prices all round.

                  And existing SME’s do not have a right to exist. They can exist as long as they can keep their customers, which involves providing better service and better quality for less money than your competitors.

                  Trust me, I run an SME. I know exactly what the black cabs are going through. I’ve been there myself. The end result was that I upped my game and started to compete again. The public now gets a better product than they did before the competition showed up.

                  Competition is good. Only people who would like to take it easy by fobbing their customers off with second-rate, overpriced services need fear it.

                • you_kid

                  If they are paid too much then existing Black Cab SME is raking it in. Yes indeed, fix it if that was the case. Please provide evidence that this is the case.

                  Otherwise you are making a case for lowering of standards without a guarantee that price will come down as outlined by Stu (!)

                • No Good Boyo

                  The evidence is Uber’s popularity!

                • you_kid

                  no it isn’t! that’s just a consumer price argument over and over and over again.

                • No Good Boyo

                  Then clearly, the price of the black cabs is too high! People wouldn’t use Uber if they didn’t think it was good value.

    • La Fold

      Either people will prefer to use Uber and pay for its services or they will prefer using a hackney carriage and pay for a black cab. “Begging for business?” are you a teenager?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …no, it’s a sockpuppet.

        • you_kid

          sure and then

          avoid rtb
          keep regs to a minimum
          allow for competition

          “Black cabs more expensive than private hire? Not where I live.”

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …can any other of you socialist nutters translate this nutter’s gibberish?

            • you_kid

              of course we can, troll:

              allow for competition
              avoid rtb
              keep regs to a minimum

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …and this gibberish as well.

      • you_kid

        no, I am mixing male cow dung with horse excrement today and boy will this be fun.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …you should add in your goat sockpuppet’s offerings, lad .

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