Author Topic: Uber loses London licence  (Read 3267 times)

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #50 on: September 26, 2017, 11:43:30 am »
It explains Uber's operating model and some of TfL's objections to them. But there's also this:
Quote
This setup may seem unwieldy, but it is deliberate. In part, it is what has allowed Uber to blur the boundary between being a ‘pre-booked’ service and ‘plying-for-hire’ (a difference we explored when we last looked at the London taxi trade back in 2015).
In that respect at least, good for Uber. Probably. The distinction is so artificial and created by rather than reflected in regulations. In most of the world a taxi is a taxi, subject to the same regulations and using the same fares whether you pick it up in the street or call for it to come to you.
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #51 on: September 26, 2017, 11:46:37 am »
Yes, he probably gets quite angry if you spell his surname wrong.
What, on an internet forum about cycling? I think that's unlikely to trouble him greatly.

Jesus, this group is a tough crowd. That's the best fucking joke I can do before 8am.

ETA: it's not literally a fucking joke. I don't do those until after lunch.
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mattc

  • "Hannibal"
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Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #52 on: September 26, 2017, 12:54:09 pm »
Yes, he probably gets quite angry if you spell his surname wrong.
What, on an internet forum about cycling? I think that's unlikely to trouble him greatly.

Jesus, this group is a tough crowd. That's the best fucking joke I can do before 8am.
;D

Sorry Ian; not a tough crowd at all. Just a thick-headed one.
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #53 on: September 26, 2017, 05:52:43 pm »
You Khan please every one :'(
Sic transit and all that..

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #54 on: September 26, 2017, 08:58:28 pm »
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #55 on: September 26, 2017, 09:50:30 pm »
I think both people named Kahn and Khan might get miffed if their names were mutually mistaken.

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #56 on: September 27, 2017, 08:31:42 am »

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #57 on: September 27, 2017, 02:46:44 pm »
Saw an advert for Slide today, just to remind me they're still around. I haven't used it but it would seem to be a competitor to all of Uber, conventional taxis and buses.
http://www.passengertransport.co.uk/2016/11/taking-a-ride-on-slide-a-new-option/

I suppose it could be called a shiny, sophisticated version of a maxicab, the type of "passenger aggregator" vehicle that's common in less shiny countries.
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #58 on: September 27, 2017, 03:19:56 pm »
Uber just works and is widely available, so I can grab a taxi in a few clicks with the same app whether its NYC or Nairobi, and I don't have to do the usual haggling that comes with taxis in far-flung domains. In other areas, there's similar system (I use Lyft quite a lot in the US). It's a bit like Amazon, it's just bloody convenient. Even more so for work, as it just gets billed direct to my corporate card, no bother with receipts and tips, it just pops up in my inbox.
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Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #59 on: September 27, 2017, 04:23:03 pm »
It is a bit like Amazon* in that they are also criticised for the working conditions of their staff.  It has made some changes of a fairly superficial nature without the involvement of a London Mayor.



* interesting fact:  there is a river also called Amazon, somewhere in S. America.
Sic transit and all that..

mattc

  • "Hannibal"
  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #60 on: September 27, 2017, 07:39:22 pm »
OK, here's a fucking stupid question. I don't live in that london, and haven't followed the history of all this, but that's no excuse - feel free to kick me. If you like telling people on the internet just how fucking stupid their question is, roll-up:


Why didn't Ye Grand Olde Guild of Black Cabbes set-up app-based booking 10 years ago?

<fx:turns off computer and runs>
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #61 on: September 27, 2017, 07:43:22 pm »
They sort of did, but it was a) clunky compare​d to the Uber app, and b) you were still paying black cab prices. Uber's USP was that it combined minicab pricing with black cab convenience.

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #62 on: September 27, 2017, 07:52:46 pm »
Strikes me that "black cab convenience" is only true in city centres anyway. In other places, including quite central areas of even large cities, it's quicker and easier to phone for a cab to come to you than go out and find one.
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #63 on: September 27, 2017, 08:41:28 pm »
Uber makes it a lot easier than phoning even. You just look pull out your phone and it tells you if there's a car around (and where it is, and how long it will take to meander to your destination, and show it happen in real time). Most of them are even integrated into Google Maps (probably Apple Maps too, but I've never managed to disentangle my way through its bizarre UI – just fucking give me a 'directions' button, m'kay?)

I mostly use the local cab firm here in the Surreylicious jungles because they hover outside the train stations and it's a fiver-ish back to the Asbestos Palace. Also for the airport because I know the drivers, I have an account, and it's not my money I'm spending.

As to why someone else didn't do it, you can say the same for anything. The most overlooked thing in business success is doing what you do at the right time to be doing it. The confluence of ubiquitous mobile access, GPS-enabled phones, and mapping apps/mobile OS with decent enough APIs for Uber and their ilk to integrate with.
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Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #64 on: September 27, 2017, 09:23:40 pm »
OK, here's a fucking stupid question. I don't live in that london, and haven't followed the history of all this, but that's no excuse - feel free to kick me. If you like telling people on the internet just how fucking stupid their question is, roll-up:


Why didn't Ye Grand Olde Guild of Black Cabbes set-up app-based booking 10 years ago?

<fx:turns off computer and runs>

If you read the interesting article linked up there somewhere, you will find out that the inspiration for Uber came out of the black cab driver's app, Hailo, taking business across the water.

telstarbox

  • Loving the lanes
Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #65 on: September 27, 2017, 10:03:56 pm »
I use Uber occasionally for late night journeys within Greater London.

For me the competition is not black cabs (expensive and not always available especially in suburbs) but a tortuous and/or slow public transport journey.*

Uber's app/service is very well designed from a user viewpoint, but it wouldn't be impossible for another company to set up something similar if they could get a critical mass of drivers.

*Which can generally be beaten by bike if the weather's good and I haven't had too many beers.

telstarbox

  • Loving the lanes
Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #66 on: September 27, 2017, 10:08:59 pm »
Also, this is a very comprehensive article on the legalities of black cabs, traditional minicabs and how Uber operates as two related companies:

https://www.londonreconnections.com/2017/understanding-uber-not-app/

Jaded

  • The Codfather
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Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #67 on: September 27, 2017, 10:11:55 pm »
There's no problem with the service aspect of what Uber does.

The problem is the way it does it.

Someone else buys the hardware and provides the service. They think they are on to a good thing until they think about it.

Uber set themselves up to pay as little tax as possible, pay as little as possible to the providers and take trade through low prices.

The public love low prices and clamour for them.

Sadly low prices are not always sustainable in a societal way.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #68 on: September 28, 2017, 08:53:05 am »
Why didn't Ye Grand Olde Guild of Black Cabbes set-up app-based booking 10 years ago?

As others have mentioned, they did.

It doesn't work as well for black cabs for several reasons:-

1) One of the major conveniences for Uber is the guarantee that the fare you pay will be fair (and the app shows you up front what the expected cost will be) and, most importantly, you don't have to deal with money when the journey ends, you simply get out of the car and say thank you. (If you want to add a tip the app now provides you a way of sending the driver a tip, you can do this weeks after the ride and the driver has no way of knowing who the tips come from, they simply get a lump sum of tips come through every so often.)

With black cabs you never know how much it's going to cost until you ask the cabbie and even then it can vary massively (and it's going to be much higher than a minicab/Uber because of the TfL mandated tariffs). Then you've got the faff of paying (their card machine, which they are obliged to have, is rarely working, see point 2 below) and tip expectation (cabbies saying sternly "You really want the change?", etc).

2) Here's the biggie: Cabbies want to take cash. They don't want card payments, they don't want an auditable trail of income, they don't want taximeters that log everything and upload it somewhere. All because many/most black cab drivers under-declare their income to pay less personal tax.

They are worried that a few card payments will quickly escalate into every journey being a card payment and for those that under declare their income this would mean a loss of income (as they'd bring in the same but pay more tax). Users who book through an app are way more likely to want to pay by card (or even via the app).

Uber provides a full income trail for the drivers, so those drivers can't hide from their tax burden.[***]

3) It's much nicer to sit in the back of a car than it is a black cab.
* Not least the conversation, *anecdata klaxon* but I've only ever had pleasant conversations with Uber drivers and none of the racist/anti-cyclists/etc shit I often hear from some black cab drivers.

--

There are a whole slew of other pros and cons of Black Cabs vs Ubers.

The Knowledge is useful, it's nice to just jump into a black cab and say "The Civil Service Club please" and they just know where to go. But...
* Many black cabs have a GPS app (such as Waze, which many Uber drivers use) showing traffic congestion, so they can use that to plot a route around it
* I've seen the Knowledge abused several times. One time the driver specifically picked a route that was full of traffic to maximise his fare, he had assumed that myself and a colleague were out of towners as I let my (foreign) colleague do the talking (they'd never been to London before and wanted to hail a black cab, etc). It was still relatively direct, but had obvious choices to make the time much longer than it needed to be.
* With an Uber you've already given them the destination (although they sometimes ask for the postcode so they can stick that in Waze to get a better route than the Uber app suggests). Setting the exact pick up point is also brilliant, especially for tricky locations that are hard to describe.

Uber's corporate responsibility needs some work. If anything Starbucks/Amazon/etc have proven that the furore over tax avoidance/minimisation doesn't really harm your brand, so there's little point in doing anything other than saying you'll do something about it and maybe pay a seemingly sizeable (but still tiny in relative terms) chunk of corporation tax the next year. Driver's employment rights are another consideration although it is just a great scaling up of how most (much smaller) minicab firms are run. Most worrying is the semi-obvious plan to drive smaller companies out of business (and just convert the drivers over to Uber) with subsidised prices and then, eventually, raise the prices (and bring the company into profitability) once most of the competition has gone; personally I think the driver-less car end goal is a bit of a pipedream that is used to deflect attention away from what is going on right now.

It's very unlikely (I've been burned twice recently on big decisions - Brexit / Trump - so not going for all out "no chance") that Uber will not be granted another license, maybe it'll be another several month extension at first, but I really do doubt that Uber will have to stop operating in London for any length of time because of this. They are already in talks with the Mayor and TfL so I expect something to be sorted out relatively soon. It's certainly ballsy of Sadiq Khan to stand up to them like this (and as the article above mentions several times) Uber haven't had to face up to a licensing authority with this much power and financial backup before, and I'm glad Tfl/Khan have as the other issues (crimes reported against drivers) is a major concern across all taxi/minicab companies (not just Uber).

--

*** I wonder who is responsible for the bigger portion of unpaid tax? Black cab drivers (as a whole) because of tax *evasion* by under reporting income from some of them, or the tax *avoidance* of Uber's slice representing the London operation.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #69 on: September 28, 2017, 09:27:51 am »
Uber haven't had to face up to a licensing authority with this much power and financial backup before,
Really?
http://www.politico.eu/article/uber-wins-appeal-against-ban-in-italy/
That's a fairly major licensing authority - an entire country.

There is a lot of crap talked in comments (not here) about the TFL and this ban. I've read so many comments saying things along the lines of "Why have TFL done this so suddenly, it is unfair?". This ignores the fact that Uber were warned and given a conditional 5 month extension. They didn't clean up their act so the refusal to renew is entirely proportionate.

Uber are operating a business model that is well known - drive (sic) all the competition out of business, then jack up the prices. Currently they lose money on nearly every journey.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #70 on: September 28, 2017, 09:57:17 am »
Would they jack up the prices as much as current black cab rates? I doubt that's possible.

I'd agree with some of criticisms of their business and taxation practices, but that's for governments to enforce. Assuming businesses will volunteer to pay more tax is a highway to nowhere. I'd also agree that Uber must meet the expected standards. But then I'd rather black cabs lost their special status too.

Good point about the drivers, I've never had a bad experience. And more importantly never had to listen to LBC.
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Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #71 on: September 28, 2017, 10:42:22 am »
Uber haven't had to face up to a licensing authority with this much power and financial backup before,
Really?
http://www.politico.eu/article/uber-wins-appeal-against-ban-in-italy/
That's a fairly major licensing authority - an entire country.

From: https://www.londonreconnections.com/2017/understanding-uber-not-app/

"
TfL aren’t just a transport authority. They are arguably the largest transport authority in the world. Indeed legislatively speaking TfL aren’t really a transport authority at all (at least not in the way most of the world understands the term). TfL are constituted as a local authority. One with an operating budget of over £10bn a year. They also have a deep reserve of expertise – both legal and technical.
"
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #72 on: September 28, 2017, 11:17:40 am »
Would they jack up the prices as much as current black cab rates? I doubt that's possible.

I'd agree with some of criticisms of their business and taxation practices, but that's for governments to enforce. Assuming businesses will volunteer to pay more tax is a highway to nowhere. I'd also agree that Uber must meet the expected standards. But then I'd rather black cabs lost their special status too.

Good point about the drivers, I've never had a bad experience. And more importantly never had to listen to LBC.
I've had an uber taxi get lost in Leeds (his satnav took him miles out of the way, had to suggest a route for him back into the city), and in London. The satnav tried to send him down a cycle path, had to manually talk him round the route into battersea park.

The black cabs are just too expensive for their own good. We all know that.

Uber are operating in York and anecdote says they are charging as much as the local minicab firms.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #73 on: September 28, 2017, 11:18:59 am »
Would they jack up the prices as much as current black cab rates? I doubt that's possible.

Of course not, that'd be madness and would leave the door open for someone to come up with a rival that didn't price gouge that much. The drivers would just register with both companies (as many drivers currently do now with a minicab firm and Uber separately).

Uber's main distinguishing feature over the competition was the disintermediation play. Instead of being an app that sat as an intermediary between the user and minicab firms/drivers and took a slice of the fee (like Hailo and Gett do), it was the app AND the minicab firm AND handles all of the money. That's how they will always be able to undercut the majority of the competition (even after they have to raise prices to stop burning VC cash).

Uber's dominance will affect four major groups of people:

a) Black cab drivers. But if they continue as they have been led by the LTDA (as is) then they're done for. They've been protected for years but that protection simply doesn't work with modern technology. Most of the limiting factors are foisted on them (fares, vehicles [although this is good in terms of disabled access - but as some people here have commented Uber and other minicab companies do offer a good service for disabled users], and expensive training [The Knoweldge]).

IMHO they need:-
* Cleaner/greener vehicles (with a big incentive for the vehicle to be disabled friendly)
* The ability to treat the TfL tariffs as a maximum (although some do this now since there's no record of fares paid) I've haggled a black cab fare down (prior to the journey beginning)
* Hailo/Gett style app with driver ratings to try and disincentivise twattish behaviour

b) Minicab firms. The drivers will leave or split their time between the minicab company and Uber, but it's the existing minicab firms that will suffer the most as a bulk of their business disappears. They'll probably still live on for longer haul journeys (airport runs and commercial couriering jobs) where they are still the cheapest convenient option beyond public transport.

c) The drivers themselves. Almost every Uber driver I've spoken to really likes working for Uber. They usually cite the freedom it gives them, can work when they like, not being tied to specific hours, don't have to book holiday time, etc. They like the security of not having to handle money, or have people run away from them. The rating system reduces the risk of having nightmare clients. Maybe they're worried that I work for Uber and if they say something different I'll report them somehow, so maybe I'm not getting the whole truth.

However, with such freedom comes a lack of security. The market can be flooded by new drivers and there's no guarantee of income. Uber can put up the price and cut demand (but maintain or even increase its income). Uber can put down the price and cut the income for the driver. Uber can be dicks and have their license renewal refused, or revoked and thousands of drivers are stuffed. All things beyond the control of the driver.

There's no holiday or sickness pay, which is something Uber could address; e.g. stick an extra 10% on each fare and ringfence that (per driver) as a fund to cover any sickness and holidays. But this isn't a problem specific to Uber, it's a problem specific to all of the gig economy companies (Deliveroo, etc). Existing employment law doesn't really cope with this setup very well so that needs reform/updating too.

d) The punters. When they jack up the prices, and there's less competition to turn to. It'd be very bold of TfL to introduce caps/tariffs on/for minicab (e.g. Uber) fares but it could be possible.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: Uber loses London licence
« Reply #74 on: September 28, 2017, 11:37:23 am »
Would they jack up the prices as much as current black cab rates? I doubt that's possible.

I'd agree with some of criticisms of their business and taxation practices, but that's for governments to enforce. Assuming businesses will volunteer to pay more tax is a highway to nowhere. I'd also agree that Uber must meet the expected standards. But then I'd rather black cabs lost their special status too.

Good point about the drivers, I've never had a bad experience. And more importantly never had to listen to LBC.
I've had an uber taxi get lost in Leeds (his satnav took him miles out of the way, had to suggest a route for him back into the city), and in London. The satnav tried to send him down a cycle path, had to manually talk him round the route into battersea park.

The black cabs are just too expensive for their own good. We all know that.

Uber are operating in York and anecdote says they are charging as much as the local minicab firms.
I've just checked an Uber price for the last taxi journey I did. Their estimate is £8-£11 for UberX or £11-£15 for UberXL and UberExec. I paid £7 with a local firm (who sent an unmarked car/driver... ).
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.