In pictures: London's black cab drivers go on strike against Uber

Accenture Technology Labs Staff
Sam Shead

Sam Shead

Sam Shead joined Techworld as a reporter in July 2013. He studied Geography with Science Communication at Royal Holloway University before completing a postgraduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University. Areas that he covers for Techworld include startups, entrepreneurship, wearables, mobile and telecoms.

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London’s roads were brought to a standstill yesterday as thousands of black cab drivers protested against US taxi firm Uber.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), which helped to organise the protest, claims Uber’s drivers are using smartphone apps to work out fares, despite it being illegal for private vehicles to be fitted with taximeters.

Uber, founded in 2009, describes itself as a “pick-up” service that connects passengers with vetted private drivers. The company’s app, which has been backed by Google, Goldman Sachs and others, permits customers to order taxis through their smartphone, see who their driver will be, and track the arrival of their car.

The LTDA complained to Transport for London but the organisation has referred the case to the High Court because it says Uber’s vehicles are not “equipped” with taximeters since there is no “connection between the device and the vehicle”.  

Black cab drivers maintain that they can offer a better and cheaper service than Uber.

While driving to the protest, Roy Lovett, a black cab driver of 14 years, told Techworld: “They can’t use bus lanes so they’re going to sit in the traffic. They don’t know the knowledge to get out of the traffic. We have so many routes in our head for which way to go and we change them as we’re moving.”

He added: “We feel we’re being sold down the river by TfL. We spend 4-5 years of our lives training to do this. We give up a lot of things to become a cab driver. Our kids don’t see us because we’re doing the knowledge."

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Cab after cab

Black cabs lined themselves up in their droves on the roads surrounding Central London's famous Trafalgar Square, a site visited by thousands of tourists every day.

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Uber banners

The cabbies, along with other members of the National Union of Rail, Marine and Transport Workers (RMT), hit out against Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) for permitting Uber to operate in London.

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Picnic in Piccadilly Circus

Several black cab drivers climbed onto the roofs of their vehicles in protest. This particular driver demonstrated by having a picnic on the roof of his cab in Piccadilly Circus - usually one of London's most congested spots.

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Whitehall flag waving

Meanwhile, this cab driver climbed his roof in order to give press photographers the best view possible of a banner he had made.

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Nelson at the centre of it all

The focus-point of the protest was around Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. Members of the RMT (those wearing orange vests) used megaphones in order to make their thoughts heard. Meanwhile, the black cab drivers used their horns in order to draw further attention to the demonstration.

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Police keep the peace

The Metropolitan Police turned up in force to ensure that the protest remained peaceful.

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Free roaming

It wasn't all bad. Hoards of pedestrians in Trafalgar Square used the gridlock as an opportunity to roam freely in a part of London that is usually clogged with traffic.

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