/ 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)


If Uber are indeed operating outside of the law then the vehicle’s insurance must be invalid. So what happens if one of these untrained, unregulated drivers wraps his car round a lamp post injuring the passenger?

Uber are another internet based company that pays little or no tax in this country which to my mind is reason enough not to give them any business.

Hello everyone, thanks for your comments. Just to clarify, we support the aim to improve the quality, safety, and overall standard of cab services.

We are challenging some of TfL’s consultation proposals as we believe there is a risk that some of them could damage competition and lead to poorer outcomes for consumers.

What are the proposals that you would like to challenge Patrick Steen ?

in order to improve quality safety and overall standard, you first need to understand the current standards and why they are in place.
1. black taxis have the right to ply for hire after completing the knowledge of london.
2. all ph operators are prebooked only. ( a safety measure to protect the public as navigating london streets is hazardous – even with satnav)

as UBER are are ph operator and don’t adhere to these rules and by their own admission it is a on demand service, is that deemed to be fair competition?

The consultation is not protectionism, its purely doing whats right to protect the paying public.

I cannot comment on the regs that are being proposed as I don’t understand the industry regulations… however, I do feel compelled to question whether the regulations specified in this conversation are to even the playing field on competition. If that is the case, I actually think that is unfair. If someone has come up with a business model that the consumers want then shame on Boris for getting roped into protecting a dwindling business model, i.e. black cabs. Black cabs are far too expensive, that is the bottom line. I for one love Uber… I know the name of the driver, the registration, my trip is recorded and they are professional… and cheap. Every car, and there has been many, I have been driven in are newish… should they be required to do regular maintenance/safety checks, yes – the cost of course would be passed onto passengers. Are their background checks thorough enough? Safety of passengers should be regulated there’s no question on that… limiting a company’s ability to provide a much needed/wanted service using technology is not. The knowledge is so 20th century – we have GPS!

Steve says:
10 December 2015

Ask the driver to provide proof of their hire and reward insurance

Reading some of the comments and there are quite a few of you that have got blinkers on. Uber are not properly regulated if they were many many drivers would not get a licence. The guy who recently did the stabbing at Leytonstone station was a Uber driver who had serious mental issues bet you didn’t know that, but TfL and Uber tried to sweep it under the carpet. This same guy was many to have dbs checks but was allowed to ferry passengers in his vehicle. Also serious accidents involving uber drivers because none of them know where they are going and rely on their sat navs. They pay more attention looking at their sat navs instead of keeping their eyes on the road. Go to Facebook save black taxi.
So please before any of you write something do some research 1st Uber and TfL are pulling the wool over your eyes

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, Mods]

uber is only good for uber if black cabs go you watch their fares go up then ur
be payin for a third class service through the nose

Most of the time with their price surging they are in fact more expensive than a fully qualified black taxi ,FACT
If you want to pay peanuts expect a MONKEY TO DRIVE YOU!! 👍👍

SATNAV does not work in central london particularly well. Its a city that has changes on a daily basis and data on a satnav can be years out of date. Then you will see, as i do, drivers blindly following their nav units down dead ends one way streets the wrong way.
and was stated, when the competition is eradicated the service will still be poor and be more expensive than a black taxi.

Perhaps e-booking should require at least 1 hour before the cab is required.

It may be worth, at the same time, looking at the costs of black cab fares. Have they abused a monopoly or are they charging fair fares? Why should there be a significant difference in the cost of the different taxis? I assume there is, otherwise there would be no need for this convo.

The black cab fares are set by TFL and is set high as the running and maintenance of said taxi is very expensive and the MOT tests they are put through is again to protect you, the paying public to prove that are up to the highest standard. The same can’t be said for minicabs.

Black taxis are not a monopoly, absolutely anyone from any walk of life can become a taxi driver. Its just not many people are willing to put in the required effort to pass the extraordinarily difficult assessments.

rob71, thanks. If the black cab fares are set by TfL then that is what I regard as a monopoly – no price competition. I am not necessarily saying it is bad, simply querying why they might be significantly higher than minicabs. They all require insurance, MoT, licences, fuel, etc so why are black cabs more expensive to operate? I just wonder where the differences are.

Daniel says:
11 December 2015

Are people aware that TfL set the rates for Black Taxis?

Disgusting company…. Charge cheap fares and provide cheap service.

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, Mods]

I live and work in central London. We have congestion charging in central London in order to reduce traffic and clean up the air. Anybody who has driven around central London over the last 12 months will have noticed that the place is returning to times of old with many more private hire cars buzzing continuously around waiting for work; just double parked and waiting for they fares to come out of a club, show, pub etc.
With regards the drivers I had a friend who use to drive Addison Lee he tried the Uber App for a few weeks .He has now stopped saying that to get a living he was driving for up to 14 hours a day with no real brake; he could not park up because the parking charges would be more than what he could earn. I do not know how long other drivers are allowed to drive without a brake but I’m sure it is not 14 hours. He also told me that some drivers share cars and the App .He was sure some of these drivers had not had a CBR check just driving under the banner of another person.People should think why are these cabs so much cheaper than Black cabs ,Mini cabs and buses ; if your willing to risk your life and those you love for a cheaper fare then its up to you .Pay your money take the risk and don’t moan and cry when things go wrong.

Uber are horrendous
And have ruined London.
Driver dumped an 18 year old girl out in Loughton after taking her there instead of Leyton!!
Accidents everyday caused by these satnav jockeys

Phil Hide says:
10 December 2015

Sorry if you think we’re going off topic Patrick but I think you’d agree that safety has to be paramount. Uber drivers world wide have already been convicted in numerous assault and rape cases despite passing Uber’s alleged background cases. The matter of valid insurance also needs to be considered. As for regulating the fairs Uber have already been caught out charging inflated prices when there were problems on the Tube and there was the London rickshaw driver filmed demanding over £200 from a foreign couple. Regulation is clearly needed.

However I get the feeling from the opening article that Which? has already decided in favour of Uber. Whatever happened to impartiality? I suspect the “one million” users came from Uber’s publicity and not from Which? research. Have you learnt nothing from the VW fiasco?

I also notice that the insipid commuter freebie Metro covered this on the 30th September. Why has it taken Which? over two months to decide it needs to get involved?

Phil Hide says:
10 December 2015

“Background checks”

Hello Phil, I just wanted to say that no-one has made off-topic comments in this thread. There has only been moderation due to some contributors making personal remarks about others, making comments that others may find offensive etc. which go against both our community guidelines and T&Cs. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/ https://conversation.which.co.uk/terms-conditions/

And just to reiterate – we support the aim to improve the quality, safety, and overall standard of cab services. We are challenging some of the other TfL consultation proposals as we believe there is a risk that some of them could damage competition and lead to poorer outcomes for consumers. Thanks.

” 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.”

We being? Are Central London centric Which? staff seeing this as a cause dear to their heart, or has there been a survey of members? I have no idea.

With Which? there is always a concentration on cheap and fast with little consideration as to values and to other consequences. I would think it obvious enough that having thousands of cars [ no doubt VW’s – Which? ‘s Car Manufacturer of the Year 2015] hoping for business cannot be good for people who walk , travel by bus or cycle.

S.swain says:
10 December 2015

Why was my earlier comment , and others deleted, too honest , truth hurts!! Another PR stunt!!

S wilkue says:
10 December 2015

I was always taught never to speak to strangers or get in their cars . The uber app is exactly what I was warned about. I’ve heard horror stories from friends about their uber experiences……. Not for me.

Once again a journalist doing an article without any real research , please can somebody do a decent job and really take a good look at this company . Then put the truth out to the public

It’s just a topic up for discussion, Duncan. It might turn up in a forthcoming magazine magazine article and no doubt the Zoe will have received some some useful comments from contributors to this Convo.

I had never heard of Uber, so it’s interesting to hear the opposing views. I have a profound distrust of Transport for London since they banned cash on buses.

Dear Zoe Lederman ,
My earlier comment seems to have been removed. It wasn’t in anyway rude or offensive just truthful. Could it have been removed because it was showing Uber to be bad. ?

Daniel says:
11 December 2015

It seems to me by the comments already posted that most Londoners do NOT want Uber. There’s been many reports where Black taxis beat Uber for speed, reliability and cost. Black taxis are often cheaper and are certainly faster and more reliable (due to driver’s Knowledge of London and not having relying on a sat nav which doesn’t have the technology to show the many and various road closures) and safer! You only have to look at @ubersupport twitter feed to read some of the horror stories from lone females or customers who’s bank accounts have been raided by Uber!!

What happens if you are in a uber car,and the sat nav goes down ?…And is there a phone number you can call if things go wrong.And why do they drive along one way roads in the wrong direction ?