Famous the world over, London’s black cabs are an iconic part of our city’s transport infrastructure. That’s why the impact of apps like Uber on traditional taxis has generated such a heated debate in the capital.
Of course competition has affected the taxi trade. But surely the answer to the pressures faced by black cabs is to reduce some of the costs and burdens they face, rather than limiting consumer choice?
Today’s latest protest by black cab drivers was sparked when Transport for London last month dropped plans for bureaucratic new rules on licensed private hire drivers, such as five minute minimum waiting times and banning showing cars in apps.
There was even a suggestion that licensed private hire drivers be restricted to working with just one operator - limiting the very flexibility that drivers who partner with Uber love.
But Londoners made it clear they didn't want to be slowed down with more than 200,000 people signing a petition opposing those proposals.
We believe that black cabs and services like Uber - which provide a convenient, safe and affordable ride at the push of a button - can co-exist in the capital. There are huge numbers of people trying to get from A to B every day in London - and Uber’s peak times are when the pubs and bars close, public transport is most limited and black cabs are at their busiest.
Black cabs also have unique advantages only available to them - like being able to be hailed on the street by passengers, driving down the bus lanes and using ranks at busy places like train stations and airports.
New technology combined with common sense regulations can help ensure that black cabs and services like Uber continue to serve people across the capital.
That's why earlier this week we announced that black cab drivers will be able to use our app to get extra custom with zero service fee paid to Uber for a year. For Londoners it means they can book a traditional black cab at the push of a button and pay electronically through their phone, rather than worrying about cash.
And for taxi drivers it’s a chance to get a fare when there are no passengers on the street or they’re waiting in a long queue at a rank. There’s nothing to lose for black cab drivers giving it a try as they’ll be able to reach, at zero cost, the more than 1.5 million Londoners who regularly use Uber.
By making the most of new technology we can all improve services for passengers and - most of all - keep London moving.