/ 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)


It’s striking that 192,000 people have signed this petition so far: https://action.uber.org/tfl/

The article above mentions 1,000,000 Uber users in London. So that means that a remarkable 20% of Uber customers felt strongly enough to sign the petition to support Uber. It’s pretty clear that TfL has been captured by the black cab lobby, and is acting in the interests of cab drivers, and care little for the people of London.

Uber is of course already well-regulated, as are its drivers, under existing private hire regulations. One might argue that taking an Uber ride is safer than most, as the exact route is automatically recorded, along with the driver’s name, photo and car registration. And the feedback system, ensures that Uber drivers act professionally.

Time moves on, and the Knowledge is no longer particularly important now that GPS exists. Cabbies might say that they know shortcuts, but mapping apps collect congestion data in real time, and can dynamically re-route to avoid snarl-ups, which is more effective.

Here’s the consultation: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/tph/private-hire-proposals

Steve says:
10 December 2015

You don’t know what you’re talking about.
Uber does NOT comply with TFL rules.
You’ve espoused a number of sweeping statements I’m afraid, none of which have been properly researched.

Robert says:
10 December 2015

Uber is flooding London with cheap labour and as for background checks did anyone see channel 4 news on Sunday (Leytonstone knife man was an uber driver) the 5 minute rule is so drivers can plot a route rather than look at sat nav the whole journey so to me it’s a safety aspect
Fixed prices are what the rest of the mini cab trade do anyway sorry but uber is no good for London imo

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Act Professionally ??. David Chambers, really.Do yourself a favour,google, Uber drivers london forum,and read for yourself how unprofessional they really are.

Nikola says:
10 December 2015

Vic embankment is closed from the 6th dec till the 23dec from 8pm till some time in the morning. Sat navs will still lead cars onto it and when the uber goes there and has to turn around where will he go as they have no idea where they are going just following the screen. A black taxi driver will know wxactly where to go not only that know short cuts to avoid traffic because of the knowledge. None of them have criminal record checks god knows whos driving you. Be safe be amart use a black cab

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Patric says:
10 December 2015

Lol….Oh my you so dont know what you are talking about im afraid. This is about the way the business model of that company works, it floods the market with cheap products an cares nothing for the individuals that generate its income. The man is a snake and a scab that has no interest in anything other than a buck. They should be banned from this city as they are a disgrace an have no idea where to go or how to drive at all…. I am a bike courier an see the stupidity of them on a daily basis, the only reason they drive for them is because they have no other skills or abilities an see it as an easy way to earn a pittance…. Lol…Even then they can’t do it right!

Susan says:
10 December 2015

The petition by Uber is flawed as anyone in the world can sign it which is hardly fair as this is an issue that affects the UK and London in particular. Uber will try to get what they want by any means necessary.

Fred Law says:
11 December 2015

David from the comments below they have blown your argument out of the water. I would like to ask who checks who signs uber’s petition, they can afford to have a team of people signing it ( maybe even you ). Well done on achieving the status of first comment, you will get your bonus this month for that. Whether you are a blogger that is under uber’s payroll or not, the question that fundamentally remains is would you put a daughter of yours in an uber or a Black cab late at night. I know which one I would choose.

How do uber drivers become professional.Do they have a long training course or have to study before driving on the road?.Charing cross to North London,via kensington and A406,is this a dynamic route David Chambers ?

On at least two occasions my Uber cab has failed to arrive and I have been charged a fee for not waiting. Can someone please tell this forum how or who I and others that I have heard of in the same situation can have this fee refunded or more importantly who we complain to as I have been informed that Uber are not fully regulated at this time by TFL unlike other mini cab companies who I can talk to over the phone rather than relying on a faceless app.

Joe send an email with the details to support@uber.com. I have done this a couple of times and the money has been credited immediately. On both occasions the mapping/GPS app let me down and the drivers went to the wrong location – very cheeky of the driver to charge me for cancellation as it was to our mutual benefit that the ride was cancelled. Uber were super prompt in responding and crediting my account.

Sondra,Ha ha,this is the crux,uber dynamic mapping sat nav went to the wrong location on both occasions,really ????…..who needs the knowledge lol.And they charged you for this service,you couldnt make it up.

Air pollution levels in much of London are dangerously high. Has Uber encouraged more vehicles on the road on the chance of picking up a ride? I suspect this is the case. Uber cars seem to be instantly available . In Central London peddle cabs are a bit of a tourist thing and considered a nightmare for other road users and have the reputation for being driven recklessly. Perhaps a properly designed and tested peddle vehicle with a qualified cyclist would be an asset and help cute pollution from cabs and taxis most of which are run on dangerously polluting diesel.

Steve says:
10 December 2015

A few years ago, there were approximately 2000 minicabs within the congestion zone on average throughout a 24 hr cycle.
In order to facilitate instant E-hailing (which is illegal) there are now 20000 minicabs in the same congestion zone, hanging around, parking in the most innapropriate places , with their hazard lights flashing away, awaiting their (illegal) E-hail. This is the cause of the elevated pollution. Also the innapropriate parking up causes traffic chaos.

Do peddy cabs surge price like uber does ?

“Has Uber encouraged more vehicles on the road on the chance of picking up a ride? I suspect this is the case.”

On the contrary; if they are directed to their fare by an app, there’s no need to cruise the streets looking for someone as black cabs do. They can just park up near somewhere popular and wait. If you want to reduce air pollution, fewer cruising black cabs sounds like a good move to me.

Do you have any idea what you’re on about? There’s nearly 100,000 minicabs cruising the streets of London they move around in the hope of picking up fares in busy areas, causing dire congestion. There’s only 20,000 black cabs. They have dedicated ranks at stations and popular spots, so they don’t have to clog up the roads to such a degree. It’s no coincidence that London traffic is moving at an all time slow.

Terry says:
10 December 2015

Where should they wait while waiting for a job to fall out of the ether? You know nothing about central London.

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Considering it’s impossible to find a parking space in london this causes more problems because they park near where they hope to get hailed from but show no consideration to where they actually wait
Blocking roads and bringing traffic to a standstill
The driving by most ph vehicles is shocking

They are cruising the streets waiting for an e hail which by the way is illegal.

Phil Hide says:
10 December 2015

Uber themselves reckon there are 26% more cabs on London’s streets since they setup shop here. That’s thousands more vehicles plying for the same trade, clogging up the already congested streets and adding to London’s already illegal levels of air pollution.

Uber is incredible progress. You can identify the driver and vehicle registration in advance, all adding to safety and security. Five minute mandatory wait? Sour grapes! Also in some inner city areas it is much safer not to be kept waiting, opponents get over it!!

Kaz A says:
10 December 2015

You should look up the statistics on how safe and secure Uber are – shocking! It might surprise you

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The important point is that all mini cabs and private hire vehicles operating in London legally have to operate on a pre-booked only principle. (only Black Cabs are allowed to offer an immediate hire/service) Uber are currently being allowed to operate as a pre booked only private hire service when they actually do not even offer a pre booked service at all, only an immediate one like Black Cabs. The failure on behalf of authorities to enforce this basic and fundamental point is at the centre of the dispute. Surely if the law were enforced it would lead to an end of the whole dispute.

such as TFL to enforce this basic and fundamental principle is at the centre of this dispute. Surely if this is

were enforced then this would lead to a solution to the whole issue.

Here is an example of Uber’s response to a pre booking request and Tfl’s response to

I understand what you are saying here and yes on the face of it, the law should be enforced. But can I just suggest from a consumer point of view there is a gap in the market and Uber filled it. Can the regulations not be progressive as well? Just saying.

Do you uber pay uk tax ? i read somewhere that they are based in Holland ?

I question the figure of 1,000,000 users of Uber in London. That is remarkable because I questioned 250 people in Shepherds Bush and only one person had used Uber.

Susan Gee says:
10 December 2015

You only need to read the newspapers or look on Google to find a vast amount of bad publicity and horror stories regarding drivers. As a woman I would never, ever use Uber, a London Black Taxi is by far the safest and you can’t put a price on safety. Uber are supposedly cheaper but even that is debatable with their price surging and drivers who don’t appear to know where they’re going and sometimes go miles out of their way before they reach the destination. This has happened to several people I know and they’ve still been charged. With the recent attack by an Uber driver in Leytonstone it’s very clear that the public are being put at risk by drivers who are not properly vetted. Which, you need you do some research into the dark side of Uber before you decide what’s good for Londoners.

Sue Peterson says:
10 December 2015

I’ve heard too many horror stories about Uber to ever tempt me to download the app. I will stick with licenced black taxis. I know that I will get to my destination safely.

It makes me laugh that people will go out and spend a small fortune on a night out with expensive entry fees to clubs, swanky cocktails etc, but then put their lives in the hands of an uber. Not for me, I value my safety.

Ms Lederman I do think you need to do a bit more research in respect of public safety. All the black industry want is Uber to fall in line with the current regulation as same as all the other private hire operators to which they are not currently doing. I really do think you should be doing a lot more research before you start endorsing a app which is flawed, why not contact the LTDA and check the #ubered Twitter feed which demonstrates accidents and just somes of the scary incidents that are being ignored and not being dealt with properly!

Steve says:
10 December 2015

They rely on sat nav so they might not be looking at the road, hence, the colossal amount of collisions they’re involved in.
If the satnav tells them to do a u turn they’ll do it, no matter where they are.
The overall standard if driving is truly appalling.

They surge price whenever it’s busy including acts of terrorism.
If you use them you’re taking away from the British economy.

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Good for passengers, you must be joking. In the light of the recent revelation that the man responsible for attempted murder at Leytonstone Underground station was an uber driver, I don’t think I would want any of my loved ones being in his vehicle. Even if they did carry out extensive background checks on their drivers, their uber pool share a cab could leave vulnerable passengers sitting next to undesirable company.

Uber only care about the platform and profit not the city the people the public or Congestion
Its concerns are profit and profit only even their drivers are complaining

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Surprised Which have been bought out by their PR department.

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Hello everyone, thanks for your comments. Please can I make you aware of our community guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/ This point in particular:

“You can’t agree with everyone all of the time, but when you do disagree please be polite and speak to them as you’d like to be spoken to.”

Please keep that in mind before you comment. Thanks very much.

Feduplondoner says:
10 December 2015

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Fred Law says:
10 December 2015

The safety aspect of Uber really worries me and I just hope TFL’s proposals go someway to address my concerns. If this company can accept an uploaded Chinese takeaway menu as an insurance certificate and approve that driver to drive the public around London then alarm bells ring.

Terry says:
10 December 2015

Laws don’t exist merely to frustrate the business ambitions of greedy tech entrepreneurs. They also exist to protect the more vulnerable members of society. Women are attacked every month by unlicensed cabs. If Uber doesn’t have to follow licensing laws, then neither does any Tom, Dick, or Harry who chooses to paint the word “TAXI” on the side of his car, and start offering rides via the Internet.
The naivete of the person hosting this debate, for which, is breathtaking. Which magazines primary concern should be more concerned about public safety than whether an unchecked, unverified, untraceable and possible convicted criminal from another country, is going to save me some pocket money to buy another latte. Would the liberal middle-class wring their hands, as they do about workers exploited by clothing manufacturer s or coffee bean suppliers, if they had to exploit a London worker to afford a pain au chocolate for breakfast.

Ashley says:
10 December 2015

Haha .. Spot on it’s funny seeing people come out the shard or novikov having spent 300+ for a meal then risk there life trying to save £4 in an iligal unlicsenced minicab why don’t they just go to weather spoons ..

I cannot remember the last time I used a taxi of any kind. When not driving I’ve used the tube, the bus, or legs. However I do see fairly frequently in our local country papers reports of safety tests on mini cabs. The number of failures is quite worrying. Although they may be denied their licence until the faults are fixed it seems to me their licence should be revoked for a substantial time if the neglect is repeated – but it isn’t.

Ashley says:
10 December 2015

These regs are in place all ready it’s simply enforcing a watered down version of the current law .. Obviously which? Are corrupt as are all mass media who are excepting Deep Filled Brown Jiffy Bags…..

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its worrying the naivety that people have regarding the industry. Consider the fact that all other operators that runs into the thousands have had an issue with the regs ever… Just ask yourself why they want to avoid regs? It is for the very same reason they surge price. They will be able to set prices to their own ends with no regards for the paying public (safety or cost) and then you will get exactly what you wish for, albeit at 3 x the current price, permanently! Its cheap currently to undercut the opposition and kill it. Are any of you aware that they operate at a HUGE loss. Additionally, bear in mind the service is far worse than the existing black taxi… The regulations are there to protect you, the paying public. As for satnav in London…. No! it cannot compete in anyway with a london taxi driver. be careful what you wish for….

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