London Brexits from Uber


There are multiple issues swirled together in the taxi/Uber/work/gig economy debate, that requires more attention than I can provide in this blog post, but let’s just react to the news today from London.


In response to black cab pressure, Transport for London announced that Uber must stop operating in the capital city at the end of this month (Uber can continue for 21 days while it appeals). This is shocking to the 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million Londoners who use the app, which is half the adult population of the city.


Most shocking of all is the signal it sends to the tech world: Go slow with new ideas, innovation can be stopped at any time, and incumbent monopolists are more important that nimble upstarts. The future is something to be feared, while we celebrate the past. It sounds a lot like Brexit.


One Black Cab talking point is that Uber ‘does not take responsibility for their passengers safety.’ Now London black cab drivers are indeed a top notch lot, but who has had an unsafe experience with an Uber driver? I don’t see too many hands up. And who would go back to the past of high fares, cash only and not enough cabs? Hmmm… not many hands.
TfL says it wants everybody to play by the rules. What is rule one? Charge more than people want to pay? Do what you got to do, London. Bring back the horse drawn Hackney carriage while you’re at it. Enjoy your expensive, inconvenient life.


I know a place where car service is cheap (and we use bikes even more often). It’s a beautiful place that was built in the past, but is focused on the future. Now if you’ll excuse me, my Amsterdam Uber is here. It costs me EUR 6 to go home.