Uber ridden out of town

Uber has only itself to blame for its ineptitude Photo: EPA

Do not weep for Uber, the ride-hailing app that has been stripped of its London licence for being a crappy outfit, or in the more official sounding language of transport bosses, not “fit and proper” to hold a licence.
None of this should have come as any surprise to Uber’s chief executive as the company is a controversial presence in many countries, particularly over its arrangements with drivers who are contractors not employees. It offers cheap journeys that undercut many of its rivals, but the reason people are being zipped around our nation’s capital for almost next to nothing is because the drivers are being shafted and earning a pittance.
However, it lost its London licence because it couldn’t be bothered to get the basics right such as reporting serious criminal offences and conducting comprehensive background checks of its drivers. The company has only itself to blame for its ineptitude.
It doesn’t even strike me as being a particularly safe way of travelling. Here is a direct quote from the recruitment section on its website: “If you have a full-time job, Uber is an excellent way to work a few hours during nights or weekends to save up money for gifts, school or a vacation”. Now, call me old fashioned but if I’m being ferried around by a driver I’d rather they were wide awake and alert and not coming off the back of an 8-hour office or factory shift.
There was an outcry against the decision by many Uber users who see the service as a very affordable alternative to black cabs. Well, budget-friendly options have been around for donkey’s years, and they’re called minicabs. There are also concerns that thousands of the app’s drivers will lose their jobs, but if they’re good enough they’ll be snapped up by rival firms.
Uber could win its licence back if it makes significant changes to the way it operates. In the meantime, Londoners who are railing against Transport for London’s decision will just have to make do with buses, black cabs, minicabs, Boris bikes, rickshaws, rivers buses, trains, trams and tubes to get around.

Read more in this week’s print edition or go to e-paper


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.