In a recent decision, Transport for London denied Uber’s request for a license renewal. This decision is a landmark event in the turbulent battle between ride-sharing companies like Uber and municipalities worldwide. London adds its voice to the list of cities which have shown a distaste for the company which has done so much damage to the local taxi industry. In fact, in part of their decision, Transport for London deemed Uber and its fleet of drivers ‘improper’ and ‘unfit’ to operate as a private car hire service.
What makes Uber improper for London?
Many argue that Uber operates outside of the bounds of fair competition. By allowing nearly any driver in nearly any car to be hired, Uber erodes the professionalism and strict standards of taxis. Further, Uber’s relatively low costs, not to mention their ease-of-use, has essentially monopolized the private car market in London. If Uber were allowed to continue to operate in the city, it would not be long before the entire London taxi industry finds itself unable to compete.
Proponents of Uber argue that the company is providing employment opportunities for thousands of out-of-work citizens. However, Uber has actually been developing driverless car technology, an advance that may increase the app’s convenience factor, but would also put every Uber driver, not to mention every cabbie, out of work.
The Solution? A state-owned taxi app
Nobody can deny the convenience of summoning up a ride on one’s smartphone. With this in mind, the idea of eliminating Uber from UK cities does not mean eliminating the convenience of private car hire apps. The obvious solution is to create an Uber-like app for the existing professional taxi services that already operate in the UK but struggle with the cut throat competition from Uber.
Would a state taxi app work?
The UK government already has had success with mobile apps including those for monitoring traffic, preparing taxes, and childhood education.
Taxi drivers in London currently need to register with the government and obtain a private operator’s license. Those who own small taxi firms also need to register and apply with Transport for London. This means that every professional taxi in the city is already registered and databased. Information such as this will form the basis for the app, this can include the service the user wants to select, for example a school run, taxi cab hire or airport transfer.
Clearly, the state has the ability to create and run popular mobile apps and the information needed is already at the government’s fingertips. All that would be required from citizens would be a free download.