Sadiq Khan’s decision to revoke Uber’s operating licence in London, effectively banning the company from operating, proves that he is not a Mayor for all Londoners but is captive to special interests. There is nothing courageous or brave about this decision which denies choice to the public. Uber provides a cheap and efficient service to 3.5 million Londoners.
Many of Uber’s customers are low earners who cannot afford the high prices of a black cab and also use the app for its convenience at any time of day. Sadiq Khan’s decision suggests that London is not open for business but that it is closed to innovation and consumer choice. Sadiq Khan said in his statement that he wanted London ‘to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology’ – with this decision, we can see that this couldn’t be further from the truth. The internet is pushing for freedom of choice but we have yet another example of how Labour is against the consumer and only have the best intentions of their union paymasters in mind.
It is important to be clear throughout that there are elements of Uber’s service that must be improved – such as allegations over passenger safety, the proper reporting of criminal offences and the creation of a more level playing field with black cabs. However, taking away the livelihoods of over 40,000 licensed drivers is not the right response. These are definitely issues which need fixing, but it should be possible to do this without resorting to an outright ban which hurts all Londoners.
Uber drivers already go through substantial TfL background checks as do the many other mini-cab companies that operate within London. This puts pressure on TfL to explain to Londoner’s why TfL’s own security checks on Uber drivers are failing. As Gareth Bacon AM on the London Assembly has said: ‘Uber provides the platform but it is TfL that conducts checks on the drivers.’ Sadiq Khan and TfL should own up to their own responsibility to keeping Londoners safe rather than trying to shift blame elsewhere.
The Mayor of London knew that this decision would be unpopular with Londoners, which is why he tried to bury the news under the Prime Minister’s Brexit speech in Florence. It’s important that Sadiq and TfL explain to Uber drivers why they will now be unemployed with the added misery of significant amounts of vehicle related debt that they must now deal with.
This move is a significant blow for the 3.5 million Londoners who use Uber – but even more so for the 40,000 drivers who will now lose their livelihoods.