Chatting to Bob Tickler the other day on the topic of Internet v personal shopping, he mentioned to me that the council in Brighton are shortly going to decide whether to admit the private cab firm Uber to the city.
Licensed taxi cabbies are of course much against Uber. They argue that the drivers do not take the Knowledge, that the app is a meter and there have been incidents of rape. The Uber case is that they are cheaper, more convenient and legally there was no app when the licensed carriage legislation was passed, this viewpoint being supported by Judges. I have never used Uber but I spoke to a businessman just back from Los Angeles who does and he said the fares were roughly 66% cheaper, there is a feedback procedure and you can read the reviews on line. You can specify the level of luxury from limousine to standard and your fare is quoted in advance which must be an advantage. David Mellor is not the only one to be enraged to see the taxi meter ticking away as the cab remains ensnared in traffic.
As to the security argument I spoke to Grania, the close friend of Bob’s p/a Polly whom I know is involved in charitable work involving attacks of rape on women. She reported that black cab drivers are not so innocent either, quoting one who preyed on single drunken women in the back of his cab who were defenceless.
When I travel in a London cab I usually ask the drivers about Uber. Their concerns seem more to protect their own species than the benefits to the paying passenger. I seem to recall unpleasantness from drivers of black cabs to drivers mini cabs when they arrived on the scene in the sixties. John Pargiter who uses Betfair for his flutters said that initially they were accused of not having a gaming licenc. Now most gaming is on-line and traditional bookmakers have had to adapt. The lack of a licence was dropped for similar reasons that the conditions have been changed by the internet. Uber, backed by Goldman Sachs, are an international operation and not going away. The answer is surely for licensed drivers to expand their one Halo and other apps to compete on price and quality of service.