London mayor Sadiq Khan has written to tech firm Uber in response to its email campaign about the future of the capital's taxi and private hire industry.
Transport for London (TfL) plans to introduce new rgulations for the sector including a requirement that private hire vehicles have "hire and reward" insurance in place for the duration of the licence, as well as a minimum standard of English for drivers.
However, last month, Uber asked its customers to help it fight what it described as "bureaucratic" new rules that "threaten the livelihood of thousands of drivers" by emailing Khan to demand that the rules be given a fresh look. The ride-hailing app provider subsequently announced plans for a judicial review of the rules.
London cabbies welcomed news of the review, as they hope a rethink of the regulations could lead to a better outcome for their industry.
Khan today backed the proposed new regulations, and said the planned new rules will "ensure that the private hire trade is of the highest standard, both in terms of safety and quality, for the benefit of customers".
"The new requirement for hire-and-reward insurance to be in place at all times a private hire vehicle is licensed will help ensure that all vehicles and drivers have the correct insurance, meaning that both the passenger and driver are properly covered should an accident occur," he said.
"This received overwhelming support during TfL’s consultation and is already a requirement for all black cab drivers."
Meanwhile, he added that the English language requirement "of a similar standard to that achieved in the early years of secondary school" will improve passenger safety and communication with drivers, "for example when a passenger requires medical assistance or needs to direct a driver to take an alternative route". Again, he said, this received overwhelming support in the consultation with 80 per cent of consultees in favour of it.
One of Uber's arguments against the regulations is that the English exam, which it claims is tougher than the test for British citizenship, is discriminatory and contravenes the Equality Act.
And the mayor said the introduction of an advanced driving assessment "will raise the standard of driving across the private hire industry, improving safety and customer service standards while ensuring that private hire drivers are offered a secure working environment with a pathway to appropriate vocational and educational training".
"London deserves the best taxi and private hire services available and I am determined to create a vibrant market, with space for all providers to flourish," said Khan.
"I have made clear my intention to maintain and reinforce the two-tier system between taxis and private hire services. Each trade provides an important and unique service in London and I am determined to ensure that standards across both industries reflect the level of safety and quality that passengers expect and desire."
Steve McNamara, general secretary at the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, said: "The LTDA welcomes the mayor’s action plan, which will help create a level playing field for the taxi and private hire market. It’s ironic that a global company such as Uber, which isn’t even domiciled in the UK, should be instructing the mayor on how to spend taxpayers’ money, and is publicly refusing to accept measures which will drive up standards and safety in the private hire market."
Uber declined to comment.