The BBC is reporting that they have seen a copy of a leaked consultation document due to be issued by Transport for London, the regulator of taxi’s in the capital. London provides black cabs, the familiar icon. These tend to be expensive but require substantial training before a driver is able to earn a medallion, often called The Knowledge. Separately, there are mini-cabs available, (or private hire vehicles) and these have to be booked in advance but are often up to 50% cheaper than a black cab. Mini-cabs have to be pre-booked (typically by phone or on the web), where as black cabs can be hailed in the street.
The document is reportedly consulting on changes to private hire regulations which would require operators to:
- Specific requirement for an English language test
- New training for private hire vehicles
- Operators must provide a specified fare prior to a booking being accepted
- Fixed landline must be available at all times
- Minimum wait time between booking and the journey starting
I imagine that most of the Uber drivers would pass the English test OK.
However, the need to provide a specific fare in advance and for a fixed landline phone to be available would shatter Uber’s pricing model and current app/mobile phone arrangements. Clearly the need to wait between booking and taking the cab would have implications beyond Uber. Many non-Uber private hire vehicles will be impacted by the wait time requirement especially as you can walk in to their offices and if a driver is waiting take it right away.
Details of the new training have yet to be supplied.
We will need to see how this plays out, but I tend to think the Uber phenomenon is unstoppable.