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."