Business secretary Sajid Javid has stepped into the debate over private hire cars in the capital, refusing to rule out intervening in Transport for London’s proposals to regulate Uber and other services.
Testifying before the business select committee today, Javid said TfL’s proposals were “heavy handed” and not in the interest of consumers.
“TfL is perfectly within its rights to review transport related issues in London. I think what is going to be a big test is: does the review come out on the side of ordinary Londoners that want choice, they value competition,” he said, adding, “From my own point of view, I’m not interested in heavy handed regulation. I want to make sure that consumers are put first.”
TfL said last month that it was consulting on multiple proposals to regulate minicabs, including imposing a minimum waiting time of five minutes, banning ride sharing and stopping companies from displaying nearby drivers’ availability on apps.
Asked by MPs about the five-minute waiting time, Javid said: “If these things went ahead, there are many people that think that it it would have a dramatic detrimental impact on them in London in choice and prices.”
“We as a government welcome innovation, we welcome disruptive technology,” he said. “I wouldn't want to see anything done that jeopardises our status as a country that welcomes investment, jobs and puts consumers first.”
Earlier this year, Javid dismissed other cities’ regulations on private hire cars, telling an audience in London: “Berlin and Paris might want to ban Uber. We welcome disruptive technology.”