Read between the lines: London's economy will hail a reformed Uber

Savvas P Savouri
Barcelona Cabs Strike Against Uber Taxi App
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It seems a simple enough conclusion: The economy of London can only fare worse following Uber being stripped of its licence to operate in the Capital.

After all, there is the impairment to 40,000 or so who have come to rely upon it for their incomes. Then there is the potential of higher costs of travel – in money and time – of those who have come to reply upon it for transportation.

With the incomes of Uber drivers hit, and higher costs incurred by their former passengers, there surely can be only an unambiguous negative hit to London's economy?

Well, I see things quite differently.

The reality is that Uber's dramatic rise in London was not welcomed by all. It was not welcomed by those whose own livelihoods were hit by its rivalry. There were, after all, other licensed drivers plying for trade who lost out financially by Uber's competition.

Then there's the other employers across London who have found recruitment more difficult because Uber has crowded them out of the market for a very particular class of workers.

While there are exceptions, and despite the sensitivities of those readers who object to "profiling", for the most part,Uber drivers fit into a very particular socio-economic category; relatively low-skilled males.

Because of Uber's spectacular growth, many thousands of this group have been displaced from working elsewhere across London's economy. Uber has, in short, exacerbated labour shortages, and so impaired business incomes across London (the high number of vacancies are testament to as much).

The likelihood is that Uber will have to remodel itself if it is to remain a part of London's economy. And in being reformed, other sections of the economy can only benefit. Even if all this is true, there remains the concern over the increased cost of transport faced by those who have become reliant on Uber's cheapness and ease of travel. Well here too matters are far from simple.

Uber – much like Ryanair – are being forced to remodel their contracts with their "pilots". Since both operate in fiercely competitive markets they will be reduced to absorbing to profits their increased costs, rather than swiftly passing them through to fares.

What passengers (in what is certain to be a reformed Uber service across London) can look forward to is not higher costs, but a service in which drivers are better vetted, insured and rewarded. In short, we should all hail the news that Uber will have to reform to remain in London.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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