/ Travel & Leisure

Is Uber good for passengers?

Transport for London (TfL) has proposed regulations for mini cab services like Uber, but it would seem that there’s been little consideration for the impact on passengers. We’re calling for a rethink.

Now, I love a good incentive scheme. My favourite coffee shop ensures it stays my favourite by giving me my 10th coffee free, but I do wonder if I’m the only one who feels a tad guilty reaping rewards for recommending a service I love to friends. Uber for example gives me £10 credit for recommending a friend, and gives that friend £10 towards their first ride too.

Unfortunately there are changes afoot that might make me less likely to recommend Uber in the future.

Putting the brakes on Uber

TfL is proposing new regulations on the mini cab industry that, if implemented, would force people to wait five minutes for a vehicle, even if one was available sooner.

The proposals could also stop mini-cab companies from sharing information on mini-cab availability and waiting times either physically of via an app. This is a key feature of Uber and other apps which allow you to get a view of the availability and wait times of cabs ahead of booking.

Another of TfL’s proposals would require companies to specify fares before the journey. This could pave the way for fixed price tariffs, which would exclude cases where charges calculated by time and distance can be more efficient.

We haven’t yet seen evidence that the current system isn’t working, so we think there is little justification for these reforms to be taken forward.

And these proposals won’t just impact Uber, which has more than a million users in London. They will also affect any mini-cab company wanting to offer similar services.

Now, we support improvements to the quality, safety and standard of cab services, but we’re concerned that some of the proposals would damage competition by restricting private hire cab companies.

Let the public drive this forward

We’re concerned that TfL is giving too much consideration to what the industry wants, and not thinking about passengers. On TfL’s initial consultation only 5% of respondents were members of the public, while around 80% were from people connected to the mini cab or taxi industry.

So, we’re submitting a response to TfL’s consultation. We’re urging TfL to think about the unintended consequences of these reforms. Putting consumers in the driving seat, in any market, will help increase competition which will benefit people, business and growth in the economy.

We think passengers should be driving the London cab debate, so do let us know what you think about these proposals.

Useful links:

Which? response to the Private Hire Regulations Review consultation and proposals (PDF)

Comments
Guest
Steve Thomas says:
14 July 2016
Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
20 January 2017

” 20 Jan 2017 at 01:28, Thomas Claburn
Cab app Uber has agreed to pay $20m to settle charges that it exaggerated how much drivers using its software can earn and downplayed the cost of financing cars through the company.
“Many consumers sign up to drive for Uber, but they shouldn’t be taken for a ride about their earnings potential or the cost of financing a car through Uber,” said Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, America’s trade watchdog, in a statement on Thursday.
The settlement will be used to refund affected drivers, the FTC says.
The trade watchdog has, essentially, settled a lawsuit [PDF] against Uber alleging that the company’s published claims about driver earnings and vehicle lease payments were misleading.
“Uber has publicized high annual and hourly earnings to entice consumers to become Uber drivers,” the FTC complaint states. “However, once drivers have begun to receive their paychecks, drivers have discovered their actual earnings were substantially less than Uber has claimed.”
For about a year, between May 2014 and August 2015, Uber claimed on its website that the median income for UberX drivers in New York City was more than $90,000 annually and more than $74,000 in San Francisco.
Only 10 per cent of all Uber drivers in New York and San Francisco earned that much, the FTC says. ………………………..”
theregister.co.uk/2017/01/20/uber_settles_with_ftc/

Fine ethical practices being demonstrated by Uber – lies apparently. On income and the costs of leasing a car so nothing trivial when you decide to embark on this line of work.

I do realise that Which? has supported Uber but have yet to see any reason why they decided this was a cause to become involved in.

The author’s assertion that ” Putting consumers in the driving seat, in any market, will help increase competition which will benefit people, business and growth in the economy.” is fallacious in many ways not least being the assumption that consumers have perfect knowledge that allows them to make rational choices.

However I think we would all recognise that advertising exists because obscuring perfect consumer knowledge works very satisfactorily.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
20 January 2017

a-political

Incidentally the use of this word , that does not exist in a hyphenated form, in the second line introduction part of the pdf submission surely is rather damning indictment of the quality of the charities output.

Surely somebody is responsible for checking submissions ?

Guest

theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/17/uber-drivers-homeless-assault-travis-kalanick

As a fitting addition to the Conversation.