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Uber loses licence to operate in London, will still operate while appealing (bbc.com)
256 points by reubensutton 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 499 comments

According to the article, the real decision will be made by the courts and the courts have already returned Uber's license in the past:

"When TfL decided not to renew Uber's licence in 2017, the company addressed some of the issues raised by TfL back then and then a magistrate later granted Uber a new licence.

On the face of it TfL is standing tough against perceived failings by Uber. But in effect it is letting the courts decide, at a later date, whether Uber should have a licence, or not."

After living for years in London, it’s hard to compare Ubers with black cabs.

In the centre of town during the day black cabs are often ubiquitous, immediately available, and skilled at getting you the hell out of dodge. Something for which I’m happy to pay a premium.

Anywhere else they can be capricious and scarce. After 11pm this is the case with in fact almost all black cabs anywhere in the city, when a very different type of driver — “borrowing” their license from a friend, card machine with a “sorry not working” post it taped to it, no chat — starts working the night shift. Usually these are more often likely to be rental drivers — during the day it’s owner drivers. The difference between the two classes of driver is, if you will, day and night.

By contrast, the semi robotic Uber will always come, eventually. They’ll drive past you. Go the wrong way to pick you up. Stop on the wrong side of the road and wait for you to cross because they don’t have a tight turning circle. Go the wrong way on your journey. It’s a fact of life that while not all black cab drivers meet the highest professional standards, it’s much rarer to find a good Uber driver.

SF and the Bay Area — I mention them as the root source of Uber’s app and product culture — certainly aren’t a cakewalk to drive around but it’s not a patch on London’s warrens. You can absolutely see that in the navigation skills of those using the big map apps to get around, and those who did The Knowledge. My subjective viewpoint isn’t some romantic notion based on the old ways or traditions either: everyone I know in London has pretty much the same experience.

I was in London recently. I took Uber 15 times in 2 weeks. I never had a single issue. The only problem I had is that the culture in London appears to be to give 4s as default instead of 5s. Other than that I felt it was better than SF Bay Area.

I wish the culture was to give an honest star rating everywhere. A 4 is an excellent rating to get and should be treated as such. Instead we’ve set everything up so that if you aren’t getting 5 stars you’re a failure. What’s the point of stars 1 through 4 then? We should just ditch this system for a 0 or 1 star system instead since that’s how it’s treated.

Same problem has infected everything from rating your apartment maintenance guy to the support person at the call center.

A pet peve of mine, surely the average rating should be the average of the scale, and 5 starts ought to be reserved for something truly exceptional

4* = No problem at all 5* = I actually enjoyed it.

If it's indeed so hard to find a good Uber driver, you'd expect them to be driven out of the market by customers themselves.

And if they compensate for that by eg. lower price, then how is it different from any other market. You want premium quality, you pay extra - you're fine with compromising on it, you go for the cheaper option.

The market is skewed as Uber runs huge losses and is operating at a loss, that's how it's different to other markets.

Also, Uber are paying under the minimum wage in the UK, or at least the regional minimum living wage in London. Uber don't pay taxes in the UK like a London minicab company would, then they underpay their drivers and expect our welfare system to pick up the slack on their crummy wages.

Minimum wages should apply to gig type working like Uber/Deliveroo etc as much as it does to everyone else. This is the market failure.

Without a minimum wage, sick pay, materity/paternity leave pay, of course you can make the ride cheaper.

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uber-verdic...

If Uber had to buy the vehicles, service them and pay full tax and fines it would be nearly as expensive as black cabs.

I take my fair share of Uber rides but I can see the next dot com bust happening now when this unprofitable business model all washes out. See also WeWork.

see addison lee. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addison_Lee)

This is the reason why I find this "TFL is against innovation" rubbish is so annoying. AL had an app way before uber was in london.

The only difference for the end user is that AL is more expensive. (because whilst the drivers are "independent" they lease the cars from AL, and have an exclusive contract with them)

Yes if a company does something that is not in the core specialisations, they would be expensive. Who guessed?

I'm talking about the gig economy ripping off their workers. I think you've misunderstood and been rude and sarcastic with it.

Did not mean to be rude at all. It just seems you're misunderstanding how differently Uber operates in each market.

There are multiple markets where Uber is not ripping their drivers off in any way, because if they did they would be running to competitors. The problem with gig economy workers nearly always stems from the core issue of lack of legislation in self-employment.

> The market is skewed as Uber runs huge losses and is operating at a loss

According to Q3 financials, I believe that is longer true for ridesharing.

> you'd expect them to be driven out of the market by customers themselves.

Customers will frequently do things that are bad for them and bad for everyone, just because they have received advertising. That's why I think Uber is basically the antivaxx of taxis; they ignore regulations and break laws, putting people at risk and do everything they can in bad faith, but remain incredibly popular in some circles so I expect the law to drive them out, not "customers themselves".

> putting people at risk

Given that this is the only part of your comment that remotely reaches "bad for the customer" [1], can you elaborate on this? I've heard scattered reports of safety concerns but they never seem to add up to much, and I've never seen anyone try to do an apples-to-apples comparison to taxis. There's obviously inherent danger in large numbers of people getting into strangers' cars, and the question is whether Uber is less safe than taxis.

[1] I mean directly, not via "bad for everyone"

>, can you elaborate on this?

Not the person you were replying to but sexual harassment or just creepiness is a common one here in Indianapolis. This year alone:

- one friend had an Uber driver offer her perfume when she took an Uber home which creeped her out

- A co-worker driving Uber on the side had a couple invite her into their home offering her use of their hot tub and telling her that she could borrow clothes or just wear her underwear

- Another female friend had a driver offer her "complimentary earnings".

- Two female friends getting a ride to a bridal bar crawl were repeatedly asked for their phone numbers to 'meet up later tonight'

And I don't think this is abnormal either, a little searching on reddit/facebook/twitter and you can find report after report of such activity on the various ride platforms.

Pretty much everyone I know will not use ride share any more for being responsible while out drinking or when needing a ride to the airport and have gone back to using cabs or friends/family.

I've only used them myself a few times, all last summer when I was in San Francisco for less than 48 hours and none of them left me feeling "yay this is a great service"

- The guy that picked me up at SFO apparently didn't speak a word of English and just kept smile and nodding when I tried to ask him questions. It was Pride weekend and a road between us and my hotel (the Proper) was closed for the parade and he kept trying to find a way around and looking at me panicked, eventually I cancelled the ride and got out to try and find my own way.

- The guy that picked me up to take me to OpenAI had some sort of Alex Jones-esque talk radio on that was talking about 'government sanctioned false flag events' that left me wondering about the mental well being of the driver, he never said one word to me the entire time. No hi, no are you my guy, no we are here, no get the hell out of my car. Nothing. Worse, the dude had total Travis Bickle vibes WITHOUT the radio/podcast. He dropped me off on the wrong side of the street and at the end of the block.

- My first ride from there to YC's San Francisco office was hijacked by someone else. Got in my ride and the app reflected me in the car being charged, I cancelled the ride after a minute while trying to find any sort of way to notify the app or driver I wasn't in the vehicle. Had to request another and wait several minutes, this guy seemed alright, said hi to me, then proceeded to drive like he just stole the car while cutting off a couple of buses/trolleys on the way back to the Proper while letting off strings of 'mother f* this, hole that, can you believe this guy" and had three phones on his dash with some app open that was apparently telling him if he should take a Lyft or Uber fair right then (IIRC it was actually a company from a YC batch, I looked it up on my phone because I thought it was a neat concept). He also was on the wrong side of the street and and said "is his good" after he'd already put the car in park with traffic behind him.

- The guy that took me from the Proper to SFO again, apparently did not speak or understand English, I believe was muttering at traffic in Russian or Serbian, was extremely impatient in traffic getting out of the city with a lot of hard accelerations and abrupt stops trying to get one car advantages by weaving in and out of the lanes. Also had 2 phones on the dash and a dedicated GPS unit and accepted a Lyft ride with me still in the car on an Uber ride as he was maybe 1/4 of a mile from the terminal, jumped out of the car and had the trunk open before I was out and was shoving my suitcase at me and immediately walked up to his apparent next customer to get theirs.

- I think had another ride back to the YC SF offices to meet with another person a little later and the woman that picked me up kept turning around to talk to me face to face while driving, told me how she was raising her son 'free range' and asked if I was in town for Pride. I informed her no and told her about the entirely naked man I'd seen walking down the street with only sandals and a bag [1] at which point she went on to explain that her and her child's father took him to the parade the day before to expose him to as much of the 'exposed male form' as possible because she thinks 5 is old enough for a child to start learning about sexual freedom, again while looking back over her shoulder at me regularly.

- The guy that took me back to the Proper had been (or perhaps a passenger), at some recent point, vaping THC containing vape in his car as there was both a fruity and a immediately recognizable skunky aroma in the car

Prior to this I'd only ever been in one other Uber ride, all of a mile here in Indy that a co-worker and I took just to get out of the rain that we'd been in all day so we could try and figure out where to eat now that an outdoor concert was over and that guy too didn't say as much as boo to us.

Now, I'm a 6'1 330lb male strength athlete and I generally found the rides to be questionable at best. Combine that with my female friends consistently having creepy drivers ('complimentary earrings'!) and I'm honestly surprised at how many people seem to swear by such services.

[1] censored photo here about 1/4 of the way down the page https://www.ryanmercer.com/ryansthoughts/2019/3/4/21ad-after...

You came to SF and are now enjoying life post-Uber. You have no idea how bad taxis were before Uber. You would never have gotten a cab pre-Uber.

I once waited 1.5 hrs for a cab to pick me up from a hotel. The idea you would just hop in a taxi and travel places was impossible pre-Uber. If you were downtown, you might be able to flag a taxi but once you arrived at your destination you wouldn’t be able to flag a taxi down depending on where you were. So you would have to call a cab and hope they would show up. At 3X the price.

This is part of the equation that you don’t get. Empty cabs would pass people on the streets because they would pick and choose rides to the airport because those were the most lucrative.

Safety was impossible. Now with Uber safety is better than it ever has been, you just don’t realize it because you don’t know what the taxi stays on safety were before.

If you don’t like the service, give them 1 star and complain. That’s how it works.

This, and worse.

Using a taxi cab in Berkeley before Lyft was a worse nightmare. It's a long story, but Berkeley has a "medallion" system ( because, um, they were afraid of a crush of taxis? ), and one business bought them all, but then went over the limit of something like 3 employees and thus would have to pay benefits. Since they were cheap, they didn't want to pay benefits ( sound familiar? ), and created lots of small sham "taxi companies". Each had a different phone number and dispatch, with the same poor cars and drivers, and the numbers were always busy. The only way to get a taxi was to get somehow to the taxi rank at Berkeley Bart, anything else, forget it. Forget living 5 miles from the train up in the hills or needing a ride to the airport, you simply couldn't do it.

San Francisco was about as bad. Locals realized ( eventually ) that the only way to get a taxi was to head to one of the major hotels and present yourself as a guest to the doorman. If you didn't live within walking distance of a downtown hotel, you weren't ever going to get a taxi. Dispatchers ( there were only two real companies, Veterans and Luxor ) would simply refuse to service non-business addresses, and if you asked a bar or restaurant to call on behalf, they would simply reject outright half the time.

When I read that people were "made uncomfortable by a comment", I agree the system could and should be better, but what happened in the bay area is we moved from an entirely non-functional system where taxi rides simply can't be had, to a system with some problems but people can get rides. The story above about getting rides and the complaints about being dropped off on the wrong side, um, yeah.

I would say about 10% of the rides I take by Lyft are less than optimal. I wish the app allowed me to select preferences: fast driving over chit-chat, don't bother with my luggage I got it, drop me off somewhere close instead of being precise, because we all have different opinions.

I've had my fair share of bad rides, one where a guy was nodding off and I thought we were going to die, a couple where the "meter" was turned on early or off late. The most recent ride I took wasn't great, the guy kept calling me and his location didn't budge for 5 minutes --- I don't answer anymore, they're trying to figure out where you're going and if they don't like it they cancel the ride. That particular guy picked me up from the wrong bay at the airport ("oh, my app didn't show me", yeah right ) as well, but drove me home quickly and correctly otherwise.

I had this same discussion with a driver in Munich last week, and I argued there are places where the old taxi system works great, and those places aren't at risk for replacement. Germany is one of them, and there's no point in using Lyft there. Japan is another. Some of london is fine, the rest, you have to know the minicab number to call. I was in a London cab a few days ago, it was great --- and they're electric! Manhattan isn't bad, but you get some crazy apples.

You could invent a better system. It's pretty easy. The primary customer issue is hailing and tracking. If you built a hailing and tracking app, and the municipal law simply says "anyone offering rides can do it how they want, but they must ALSO offer rides through the municipal app" with a well defined REST API, and created a bidding-like system to allow prices to fluctuate, _and_ gave the municipality the ability to operate that app instead of a contractor agreement where a for-profit company owns the monopoly part of the transit infrastructure.... that works.

Unfortunately, that would require someone to build such an app and offer it to municipalities without the 1000x investor payoff that is required by investors. And it would require a municipality to operate a 7/24 web service, or contract it out, which we haven't seen municipalities be able to do.

Anecdata: information or evidence that is based on personal experience or observation rather than systematic research or analysis.

>And I don't think this is abnormal either, a little searching on reddit/facebook/twitter and you can find report after report of such activity on the various ride platforms.

This is an unusually ignorant argument. You never hear about the great rides or uneventful rides. There are millions of rides a day. So even if you came across 1000 negative posts, which may look like a lot to you and your “research”, it still would still only be 0.01% of rides for that day, not taking into account the time delta of those posts.

wow, not sure if you just had a lot of bad luck or what... I downloaded both Uber and Lyft, signed up for them just to check them out, but not in this area... but useful if I ever traveled somewhere. Which at some point I'd like to be able to go on a solo trip a year. I heard bad things about Uber though in the news, but not sure how much it differs since i'm sure Taxi drivers do bad things too... but I think since Uber is the new upstart, it's easy to pick on them more.

I have heard of not speaking English too, was watching a cruise vlog someone did from Miami, she commented on that fact. Probably awkward, but I guess if you want to be a world traveler got to figure out the language barrier.

Checked out your blog post. Also interesting about pride, very popular there so not surprised it's mess. "move along, KEEP MOVING", surprised the police didn't want to help with directions, but probably a huge crowd? so trying to control the crowd maybe? hmm. I know there's reports that the police in SF don't even investigate car break ins anymore either, so not sure what their job is anymore. Needles and poop part I hear a lot about sadly though. It seems like the entire west coast is going down hill. In Seattle the local news station KOMO did a special called "Seattle is dying". Also not sure if people running around Naked is normal, but maybe doing it just because of pride? Kinda surprised they tolerate that, I think if I started running around nude here I'd be arrested and probably sent for a mental evaluation.

I used to want to go out west because of tech, but I've woken up a lot more about the realities. The housing costs, high crime, high taxes. I kinda change my mind a bunch of where I want to live though, I think working remotely being a digital nomad would be nice or retire early if got lucky from creating something successful... So much to explore around the US and world. Want to do a bit of cruising and international travel, RV around the US, plus I feel like RVing would be cheaper than exploring the globe so more long term. And it's basically a home on wheels. There's parts out west though I think would be nice to vacation, but not a place to live. Like you see Seattle on TV growing up on TV shows and movies so be nice to sightsee. Same with some of the places in California.

Spend summers exploring more north, spend winters in the sunbelt. But if that dream doesn't happen yet, my other goal is to go somewhere warmer and nicer like FL or TX. But it seems like Austin is growing, and starting to have some of the same problems as SF... Austin is warmer too than here but still some days it gets cold it looks. Tech is growing in Miami too. Orlando would be another spot, plus could get an annual pass to Disney! Some people are happy if they get to go once in their life, imagine being able to go almost every day! Some people with passes living near by will just go only for dinner and maybe ride one ride or two. One of my goals with the RV dream is to spend probably at least a month in Orlando during the winters, but there's other spots in FL to explore. Galveston, TX and Quartzsite, AZ are some other winter destinations that seem popular.

>but probably a huge crowd?

The crowd was INSANE. It was effectively crotch to butt for a block or more in some spots with no movement at times and the collective body heat actually making it difficult to breathe on the street that had the barricades, then you'd duck down a street going the opposite direction and it was much more sane. I landed I guess as the parade was starting, by the time I actually got to my room the last few floats were passing by outside it.

Just apically bad timing/bad planning on the assistant that booked my room and flight (to be fare when she asked how my trip was when she saw me before one of my meetings she admitted she hadn't even thought about the parade and apologized for not looking at the parade route and wher the hotel was.

If my plane had landed an hour later I imagine things would have been quite different as far as getting directions on how to get around the barricades (under the street as it happened to be).

>Also not sure if people running around Naked is normal, but maybe doing it just because of pride?

So my boss back here in Indy actually recognized the guy (on description alone, before showing the photo) from when they lived there for a few years before transferring back to our office. I guess it's just his thing and based on research when I returned apparently San Francisco allows public nudity via permit for events.

Not gonna lie, the naked guy made the whole trip. I followed him for several minutes just watching people's reactions and that woman in the photo, catching her looking down at his crotch and that expression was completely an accident, I wasn't even paying attention to the crowd.

Wow, so many typos in that. I was trying to hammer out a reply so I could get out the door and it shows.

>If it's indeed so hard to find a good Uber driver, you'd expect them to be driven out of the market by customers themselves.

I doubt that there are many Uber drivers that do it long term. Eventually at some point they have to realize that they're making peanuts (if not operating at a loss) after they factor in routine AND long-term maintenance costs of their vehicle. Or they simply get 'real' jobs and were using Uber between jobs or to supplement income temporarily.

The people I know that have personally done driving for these services has done it in addition to full-time work, largely hoping to earn decent extra money from tips.

To be honest I’d feel pretty shitty about leaving a bad review for a driver. It would feel like leaving a bad review for your DHL guy: unless they are downright wreckless, I see them as poor souls in bad jobs, that try to squeeze them out.

It is human to not do a shit job perfectly all the time and I won’t make their day any shitier, just because they hurt my sensitive soul by not treating me like a member of the royal family.

I’d rather blame the systems that organize their days.

I give non-fives for cheating ( extending pickup or dropoff ), serious safety issues ( falling asleep and drifting out of lane ), and impersonating ( a different person than registered to drive ). The platform should be able to detect the first cheating problem, the other two are much harder and should have customer input.

I think I can agree with that

of all the jerks i see causing traffic delays, 90% of them are lyft/uber drivers. next time your in SF and you see someone blocking the bus-lane with their hazards on as if its some excuse, you'll see the uber/lyft tag.

They're a blight on the already tight, difficult, and crowded streets of Boston. If you're traveling down Tremont St in the South End, for example, just give up on trying to use the right lane for travel. There'll be multiple ubers/lyfts suddenly stopping for long periods of time on every block.

Cities need to designate pick-up/drop-off spots away from heavily-trafficked streets for these pseudo-taxi services, UX be damned.

Or make it so that people can't drive on major city-center/core roads. Make them pedestrian and bus lanes. Encourage people to take public transportation and away from using their own personal vehicles.

Uber eats is even worse. One neighborhood I fequent will typically have 4 cars lined up blocking the street, cars empty while the drivers go in to pick up someone's food delivery.

It's almost as if there is some sense in limiting the number of taxis that can be on the road at one time.

Maybe some form of limited-supply, transferrable crypto-token[1][2]... Could be used to prevent these sorts of situations.

[1] I am, of course referring to medallions.

[2] I am, of course, fishing for karma, by introducing a blockchain when one is not necessary.

I thought you made a modest proposal.

By far the main advantage that London's black cabs have is the use of dedicated bus lanes. This often has a huge effect in rush-hour and translates in substantial time savings vs uber.

Sounds like Uber provides valuable service to the poor who are more likely to work night shift and also less likely to be able to afford the premium for the nicer black cab service during the day.

Nobody who could reasonably be described as poor is going to commute by black cab or Uber in London. Think about the cost relative to minimum wage or "London living wage". They'll take the night bus and/or walk. It's a big nuisance that the Tube is closed overnight, though.

>It's a big nuisance that the Tube is closed overnight, though.

The Night Tube has been operational since mid-2014 and it has only gathered pace.


>Sounds like Uber provides valuable service to the poor who are more likely to work night shift

On what planet are "the poor" commuting back and forth to work via Uber?

I can't speak for the rest of the planet, but in America it happens quite a lot.

I drove for Uber for almost a year when I was between jobs. The hours I chose were generally 3am-noon (early because I like mornings, but late enough to dodge most of the drunks). The majority of my passengers were people going to and from factory jobs.

A large number of those passengers were people who didn't speak English whose English-speaking children would order the Uber for them. I didn't notice it at first, but after a few pick-up confusions where the passenger handed me a phone to talk to the person who actually ordered the ride, one of them explained it to me.

I live in a transit-sparse city, and a surprising number of poor people use Uber as their main means of getting around. It's simply cheaper than owning a car, especially if you don't have money up front, a steady job, or exceptional credit (Notice how car ads on TV are now disclaiming their advertised interest rates to indicate those rates are only for people with the best credit).

Even for me, now being an office-dwelling developer, if I factor in the cost of just a car payment and fuel, Ubering to work would be cheaper than owning a car. And that's before factoring in insurance, repairs, maintenance, etc... If I didn't enjoy weekend road trips, I'd ditch the car altogether.

So the big difference between your example and London which is how this thread started, is that London (where I live), is a place I can assure you is not transit-sparse. There are many, many public transit options.

For example this map is the night bus map just for the area around the Bank of England, and most of those will run at 15 minute intervals: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/bus-route-maps/city-of-london-nigh...

This is not unusual - other maps exist for other parts of London, and even when I lived in W6 (Zone 2), I could get a bus at all hours of the night from Piccadilly Circus to my home or vice versa. Even now living out in TW1 which is some 11 miles out from central London, I can get a night bus all night, every night to and from Oxford Circus.

Costs are also low: £1.50 a ride, with a second ride taken within 60 minutes of your first ride being free/included.

Realisitically that means you can easily get from one side of London to the other in the middle of the night for £1.50 - £3.00. It might not be the most direct or fastest route, but it's popular, and with good and obvious reason.

Tubes also run all night on some routes a few nights a week, and even when they don't 5am is a typical start time.

Poor people don't tend to use Uber in London as a utility that it sounds like happened in your city - it's a luxury product with luxury prices. Their target market here are those who are drinking and meeting friends off the beaten path from home or work on the tube network.

I don't disagree, and my experience in London has been similar to yours.

However, I was replying to someone who could not grasp that anywhere "on the planet" would poor people use Uber.

I think we Europeans sometimes tend to forget that not every society tries to achieve at least a minimum level of public transportation.

Anecdotally, I've seen this for wait staff;

Most public transit services have reduced service on nights and weekends; so, in a world where you don't have a car; you can take the train/bus to get to a shift in the day, but must take a cab or uber home.

It seems obvious that Ubers or Taxis would serve this purpose wherever vehicle ownership is cost prohibitive and public transit is at all available.

Likely, this isn't "the poor" but inclusive of much of the working class in modern cities.

London has night buses, and trains running up to midnight and starting again around 4:30am, every day.

The working class does not in general commute by Uber in London.

The same planet where Uber is referred to as a "ride-sharing platform", but literally operates as a centrally administered taxi service.

Uber in my city is way more expensive than cabs. A cab ride that I take to get to work is around £5-£6. A black cab will be around £8. An uber the other day was around £12.

Takeaway: Maybe London should spend some effort becoming more naviagatable, instead of demanding professional drivers acquire a PhD level education (the Knowledge) to find their way.

No offence, and I can see that you've been downvoted but how do you actually propose solving this "unnavigable" problem? By bulldozing existing property that is owned by multitudes of private landowners and building new roads or something else??

Honestly, what's your solution?

I doubt there is a good solution to the problem in general but having ridden a motorcycle aimlessly around central London on my own little sight-seeing trips I can certainly get on board with the idea that London has been designed to be minimally navigable without knowing exactly where you are going (or having a GPS which does the same). This is at least partially due to one way streets, turning restrictions, traffic restrictions (bus / cycle only routes), no entries etc.

It's the same for most cities and even towns, I'd imagine, eg. Sheffield (baffling one-way system to visitors), Birmingham (one way streets, central road by New Street actually leads to an underground car park if you're not a bus), Coventry (roads that go nowhere in the city centre, bus lanes that appear and then disappear after only a few hundred metres, cut across roundabouts etc). Try Redditch with its unnavigable ring road system - how do you actually get to the Vue cinema in the central shopping centre, even with a GPS??? Even towns with a grid layout (eg. Leamington) have no right or left turns across the grid so you have to follow a certain route around the town.

I think it's just symptomatic of hundreds of years of town growth.

Probably because its been "designed" over a couple thousand years and they don't have cars for the majority of that.

I doubt many donkey and cart owners encountered the no right turn onto Piccadilly! All of the things I mentioned are very much 20th century additions.

I don't have a solution. I don't even live in London.

I do think that if the city tried to make navigation more user friendly, a few simple ideas could improve things. I suspect no such effort has ever been made.

I know this is very hard even in companies that live or die by their their products being user friendly, so for a city that don't have those incentives, it probably will never happen.

Not sure how bulldozing would help. It doesn't seem like a charitable interpretation of my post :)

I know they have tried signs to help drivers but having driven there, sometimes you have about 6 signs on one post and 6 on another pointing the opposite direction, and at 40mph (which nobody around you does - they're all in a rush or seem to be living in a high-speed time warp with a distortion of how long a second is...) it is nigh-on impossible to read all of the signs and make a sensible decision without changing lanes at the last minute to the anger of your fellow drivers and peril of your own life and safety.

If they introduced one-way systems to reduce the number of signs in a given area, it'd still lead to having to have "knowledge" to know about the one-way system and how to get on/off it at the appopriate place so that wouldn't be an improvement.

If they reduced signs, it'd require knowledge of the area.

If they added more signs to help make it more navigable, it'd be impossible to read at speed (like it currently is).

There is honestly no solution. At some point you will have to actually learn something of the locality. We wouldn't apply the same logic to writing software - "people shouldn't have to learn a programming language! It's not fair!" - no we have to have knowledge of the machine we are writing for and an understanding of the language we are using.

And I say this having driven there before GPS and driving into the (new at the time) congestion zone accidentally and getting a fine.

Making navigation more user friendly: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tube_map

If this was a real thing, I'd say building bridges/roads above the city would be the only viable (yet extremely difficult) solution. Maybe underground in some places. Would look pretty dystopian probably

Underground is not possible there due to the amount of underground infrastructure dating back hundreds of years. Look at the upheaval at adding a new tube station and the cost and mayhem that caused (can't remember where the last station added was but I seem to recall a new one on the Central Line last time I was in London a long long long time ago).

Underground road tunnels are certainly possible. London's clay is over 400 feet (120m) deep (deeper as you go east, shallower as you go west) leaving plenty of easily-tunneled space if you go below most of the existing infrastructure.

There is currently a "super sewer" tunnelling project (Thames Tideway Tunnel) which goes down to a depth of about 75m, below other infrastructure.

The Elizabeth line and other tube lines are shallower, for access reasons and because building stations at a great depth is more expensive. But a road tunnel could go deeper, especially if it only permitted zero-emissions vehicles so that ventilation is easier.

Of course, it'd all be very expensive. And there is an argument that building more road relief capacity is not a desirable thing as it just encourages traffic elsewhere.

This was tried with varying levels of success over the past 150 years and is known as the tube.

Ah yeah, the sky tube. Funny how you all focused on the "maybe underground" part.

Okay mate, let's put nice straight roads and wide junctions through middle of London just to make it easier for cars?

Cars are an extremely modern invention for London - the city is almost 2000 years old, and has some really fancy, really old, really precious stuff in the way.

Or perhaps we should use this as a reason to swap more to public transport and walking?

I'm not a fan of companies like Uber or AirBnB who attempt a violent takeover of a market. However, as a consumer who needs to get from A to B, or stay at some random city, I find those services invaluable. The black cabs in London are expensive, never around when you need them, and until recently might have refused card payments (now they just seem unhappy about it). At the very least I was hoping Uber would make that industry wake up and join the modern world, but instead they chose to protest and block roads. With Uber, I always have a car available within minutes and the prices are reasonable. I just hope that the competition will take their place (and driver mass) if they do end up leaving.

Yep. I'm always amazed at how quickly people crap on Uber. In hindsight it's not a particularly revolutionary service. But does everyone remember how much the Taxi system sucked?

London has had 10,000's of mini-cabs for decades that served a big chunk of this non-Black cab market. They weren't perfect but they were cheap, pretty ubiquitous and served most (if not all) of the spaces left in the market by black cabs.

So Uber as a service hasn't been that revolutionary in London, the things they HAVE done is improve the ordering UX and making CC's ubiquitous.

`So Uber as a service hasn't been that revolutionary in London, the things they HAVE done is improve the ordering UX and making CC's ubiquitous.` - the daily trip volumes tell a different story and clearly show there's an impact.


That's a questionable dichotomy considering there's ample research showing Uber is cannibalizing public transit and regulations on Taxis have historically been put in place for a variety of reasons that one should at least consider.

Nobody denies that people like Uber for reasons but what does it even mean for a Taxi system to suck when compared to a super exploitative, unregulated enterprise such as this? As a driver, this is not only about compensation. It's about a critical lack of security in all aspects of your life. And if, as a passenger, you can't really afford decent service and working conditions maybe you are trying to live beyond your means and you should really be boarding a train or bus instead. And if you can't, that, to me, seems like a political problem that shouldn't be solved on the backs of some of the most vulnerable sectors of society.

According to what I witness in the current comments, a first step for taxis would be to mandate a working credit card machine, under penalties.

However, it seems so many many taxis were frauding their taxes, that it became cultural and enforced.

Which means taxis, which are already known as the top thief job in the world, also steal the citizen on a third level after the ride itself and after choosing the night rate at noon: taxes.

I dare to say Uber, as bad as they can ever be with wages under the legal minimum, can still be a better behaved citizen.

Taxes aren't theft. Taxes is when we as a society pool together resources to invest into the projects we as a society agreed to implement by means of the democratic process. If you don't like it you can organize and pick different projects or fewer of them or create a system that doesn't have taxes. Taxi drivers have nothing to do with it.

I believe that GP is saying that not paying taxes is theft from society.


London it's really not bad in my somewhat limited experience. (Usually take transit.) Yes it's more expensive than VC-subsidized rides but is better than taxis in most places.

Black cabs only work in the center, even in Zone 2 there are plenty places where you won't find one and where they won't be willing to go.

Car hire can work but it's often more expensive, needs to be booked ahead of time and they also refuse trips that aren't profitable for them.

Uber openen up travel for many people in London, especially at night. It's quite easy to find a lot of places in London that aren't serviced by Night Buses, there are plenty of places that are 15-30 min walk from a tube station, and the Night Tube is only available on select lines and only during the weekend.

> Black cabs only work in the center

They're bad in the center too. I live in London bridge / SE1 and black cabs still illegally refuse to take me home from say, Shoreditch because they can't be bothered crossing the river.


"nah mate, don't go sarf of the river, me"

There are also minicabs everywhere, some of which have app-based booking, and Uber certainly isn't the only rideshare app Londoners can use.

The black cabs in London were excellent but ridiculously expensive, which is why I’ve only caught one, like, once. Most people have to rely on minicabs, which were sketchy and unreliable. Uber was a huge boon to London.

Black cabs in the city are excellent, try hailing a black cab from anywhere not within 5-10 min walking from a major transportation hub like Pad, KingsX, Victoria, Euston and outside of the City's financial bubble.

The OP literally said it was excellent. But expensive. What is your point?

That they service only a minuscule part of London and refuse to take rides that take them outside of it.

Even in the center good luck hailing one at 2am on a Saturday night.

I’ve been refused rides form the Shard, Bank, and Canary Wharf plto Lancaster gate, both of which are in Zone 1.

If I want to hail a cab from my home I have to walk 10 min to Paddington and I live essentially across from Hyde Park which makes me considerably more central than most people in London.

For my friends who live in Hammersmith, Fulham, Acton and Chiswick they might as well be living in Belgium as far as black cabs are concerned they don’t go there and they won’t take you there.

I mostly lived in London just before Uber.

I don't know if they still do, but many nightclubs would have some arrangement where there was someone from a minicab company in the lobby or just outside. You'd say "W3", he'd say "That'll be £20, in 10 minutes time" and you could wait in the warm until the car arrived. (Of course, if you knew a number for a different company, you could phone them yourself.)

The drivers were pretty clueless -- even a fairly large inner-London station name like "Ealing Broadway" would frequently be misunderstood, and they'd want to slowly type a postcode into a satnav -- but otherwise they were OK.

The Taxi system still sucks often. I take cabs when I'm in downtown Chicago once in a while because they are faster than waiting for an uber. Recently I was wearing a tie-dye shirt and joggers (leaving the climbing gym) and it took me 5 minutes to flag down a cab even though plenty of empty ones passed me. I've never had an issue in the past with being picked up and it was clearly related to my state of dress. Cabs suck.

That's quite an amusing story! Perhaps cabs are the new fashion police?

On the German city where I live, they are pretty alright.

Prices are ridiculous, though, compared to England (except London)!

Spaniard here. They also work quite well in Spain.

> But does everyone remember how much the Taxi system sucked?

In London? The suckage level was zero. Black cabs were fine. Reputable minicabs (Addison Lee etc.) were fine. Uber does not provide anything like enough improvement to justify the level of illegality it's riddled with.

I think having a system that prevents drivers from pretending they can't take credit cards, and automates the process of picking people up is extremely valuable. But I wish the capital subsidy would go away so that the market could become more rational and sustainable. And the last few times I've taken an Uber or a Lyft (to/from picking up my car for repairs) the driver has...not kept a hand on the wheel at all times. So, I'm all for regulation, but the app(s) themselves are a kind of regulation that was sorely needed.

I remember calling my local minicab company and usually getting a ride in 10 or 15 minutes. Or grabbing a black cab. Never used Uber.

I still take yellow cabs home from JFK & LGA airports. The process of getting a Lyft or Uber is miserable, while I can virtually get straight into a yellow cab, even when there’s a line at the taxi stand.

Just recently I took a bus at LGA that takes you from the tetminal to the taxi stand due to construction. Even this was easier than getting a Lyft or Uber. I was in the cab way faster (including bus ride) much faster than if I trek to the designated ride hailing pickup areas and negotiate the sea of traffic to find my driver (even in less busy hours).

To boot, the cab trip started further from the airport due to the bus ride, so we were out of airport’s immediate dropoff traffic right away.

Ride was ~$10 cheaper than Lyft as well. The only downside was the annoying TV embedded in the cab. I muted it but could not power off the display.

The usual Uber/Lyft booking/pickup system doesn't scale well at airports where personal car pickup/dropoff is already a real mess in many cases. Some airports are trying to deal with this by moving ride-share to a different area (e.g. Central Parking in Boston) which is less convenient for passengers, especially those that don't know the airport well.

Usually I just take a taxi from the airport if there isn't a good transit option available. (Or book a car service in advance at my home airport.)

You call it a violent takeover, but then go on to describe them as simply providing a better service than existing competiors. ??!?

And this seems to just be the commonly accepted narrative among upper middle class progressives, so much so that nobody even bats an eye at the extraordinary contradiction.

I feel like I'm living in an alternate reality lately. All tech is evil, that's just a fact, but it has improved our lives so much that we all continue to use it all day every day.

First, as someone who strives for balance, I can't sit idle when you say "All tech is evil". That is just not true. We are all tech. all of us here. Very few people on this planet are "evil". However, many actions are perceived as evil by some and good by others. Google is not evil - they might do some things wrong, or badly but I don't believe they are inherently "evil". Neither is Uber or Facebook or any other tech company (Spam farms not included). And yes, the tech has improved our life tremendously. And it has done so at an accelerated rate over the last decade+. So fast that I really think we failed to adjust in time and are swinging from extremes at the moment. We were given "Social Media" and are now learning how to navigate both "social" and "media" together. We got tech giants and now learning what they can/cannot do. Give humans time. We're not as clever as we'd like to believe - we take time to adjust.

And yes, I think Uber's attempt to squash all competition is bad. But because they are managing to do it, the smaller firms lack driver mass and when i need to get from A to B, I'm stuck with Uber. Tomorrow I will try Kapten, and if that works fine, I'll just use it. If it doesn't deliver, I'll stick with uber while it's around. Between standing in the rain and using Uber - my choice is already made up. Still doesn't mean i need to like them.

I'm not claiming all tech is evil, just pointing out that I see this more and more as just being the accepted viewpoint these days. I also find it a pretty absurd claim, that's what I'm saying.

fair enough. apology for misreading your comment

> At the very least I was hoping Uber would make that industry wake up and join the modern world.

Even with Uber never getting a real foothold in Germany, they still did just that. It start with the myTaxi (nor for some inexplicable reason rebranded to FREE NOW) app that allowed you to book a cab, see where it is, get a price estimate and pay with your credit card. It wasn’t as smooth, but still better than before.

Now last weekend when I came back from a party at night, I called out "Anyone taking card payments?" and two drivers out of 10 raised their hands, they used SumUp [0] which is also what my favorite cocktail bar uses :)

[0]: https://sumup.com/

We're not that lucky in the UK. They came, they might go, and the traditionals will stay the same.

TfL mandated black cabs must - as a condition of license - take card payments, almost certainly in reaction to Uber's claim that they were serving a cashless society that other options weren't.

Black cab drivers also got into Halo and other apps for ride hailing, and there are now a few other third party private hire apps for non-Uber drivers. I also think it made Addison Lee - the largest private hire company in London pre-Uber - shake their game up a little.

A few people will complain, but genuinely, London will be a better place without the fleet of thousands of Toyota Priuses circling all day, every day being driven by people who TfL suspect are not fit to hold a private hire vehicle license.

Uber is cheap because they are subsidizing your fare with investment dollars at an unsustainable level. They are selling $2 for the price of $1. The ride sharing economy is convenient, but I can't see it lasting for much longer. At least not without losing some of what makes it so convenient, like low prices.

What makes them convenient is availability and driver mass. Prices are an added bonus but not the main USP. Not to me anyway.

>Prices are an added bonus but not the main USP. Not to me anyway.

But it's all related. There is more availability because both drivers and customers are being subsidized.

At the end of the day, a car costs so much to operate and maintain, and a person requires so much economic profit to make driving around worth their while. No "hacks" around that fact.

I don't get this. Supplying a ride sharing app, especially just supporting one, should have very minimal overhead. If Uber didn't have other interests like self driving research, they could be distilled down to a small startup's worth of support devs and one manager and just let the app make money. A revenue of 3 billion would be way more than sustainable being split among a company size of 10 or even 30. If anything, if forced by circumstances they could just cut all the fat and massively, massively downsize while staying the same from the consumer's perspective. VC's know this so growing for now and investing in R&D is fine when at a moment's notice a company could be reduced to 30 people and just keep supporting an app.

Somehow here in Brazil there was a startup (recently sold) that had cheaper fares, paid more to drivers, and was still lucrative.

I imagine Uber is incredibly badly managed.

Kapten and Bolt already exist, and give you access to substantially the same pool of drivers. Maybe some drivers are on Uber but not one of the others; that will change very quickly if Uber are banned. There's also Addison Lee, who have their own drivers, but offer a similar experience.

This tunnel vision of only seeing one provider of a new but fundamentally commodity service is interesting. It reminds me a lot of how Git and MySQL took off - people encountered them, thought, "oh, that's great, i'll use that", and never stopped to think if there might be better alternatives.

Do Kapten and Bolt have comparable safety features such as facial recognition for drivers? How are they satisfying the TfL's requirements to be "fit and proper"?

I've now got Kapten installed and will give them a try tomorrow. Hopefully there are Kapten drivers where I'd need it.

> who attempt a violent takeover of a market

What is a "violent" takeover? What would a nonviolent takeover be?

I'm all for new companies providing better services to consumers. If they take over a market, isn't that because the existing market wasn't meeting consumer needs? A new company taking over a market is generally a good thing, the creative force of capitalism itself.

(Provided it's not done by ignoring legitimate standards for safety, environment, externalities, etc.)

Agreed. Black cabbies have had it good for such a long time, cash in hand, monopolising the taxi business in London . I got in a cab booked using a taxi version app and the driver complained about paying % fee to the app and only getting paid once a month. Welcome to the rest of the world where people pay taxes and only get paid at the end of every month.

> Welcome to the rest of the world where people [...] only get paid at the end of every month.

Wait, what? You get paid once a month? Is this a UK thing? Every single job I've had over here (Canada) was either once every two weeks, or two times a month.

In Sweden, and I think in most of EU, once a month is the standard. I know of no-one with in Sweden with a full time job which is once a month.

Same in the UK. Traditionally here the lowest skilled jobs were paid weekly and higher skilled monthly but I think that's rapidly disappearing, if not completely gone, now.

Many jobs in construction pay weekly, regardless of skill level. Nobody wants to lose a month's money when the subcontractor goes bust.

Once a month is standard for salaried work in the US.

Certainly not standard. I've never encountered anything but every two weeks or twice a month. I have little doubt monthly exists but anecdotally it's not super common.

That's very surprising to me. In case I wasn't clear, I'm referring specifically to salaried pay and not hourly pay, where more frequent payouts are the norm.

Admittedly, I only have my own anecdotal evidence among my own experiences, friends, and family, but I can't think of anyone I've had the salary conversation with that mentioned getting paid other than monthly and would be curious to see what the actual breakdown is in the US.

Edit: This [1] article states that 59% of the US workforce is hourly, so it's accurate to say that bi-weekly is the most common frequency among all jobs in the US, but I can't find any resources that focus on the breakdown specifically among salaried workers.

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/most-americans-are-hourly-worke...

This BLS breakdown [1] doesn't break down salaried vs. hourly. However, it does say that "A look at the chart reveals that semimonthly is the pay period in which businesses pay the highest average hourly earnings, followed closely by monthly." (And biweekly after that.) Hourly earnings are probably a reasonable proxy for salaried vs. hourly.

So the data suggests that being paid every two weeks is somewhat more common than monthly. (And, for larger businesses, biweekly is overwhelmingly the norm.)

[1] https://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-3/how-frequently-do-priv...

Thanks for the followup, this puts a lot in perspective. The article notes:

> In March 2013, 94.8 percent of private businesses were single-pay-period businesses

meaning that most companies pay all workers on the same schedule. Therefore, if a company has any hourly workers that get paid more frequently than monthly, everyone salaried in the company is going to get put in the same pay schedule as well. All the orgs I've worked at either paid monthly uniformly or were part of that rare 5.2% that had different pay schedules, so I admit that my experience is an outlier here.

The other interesting thing about the numbers is that biweekly becomes much more prevalent relative to semimonthly as the businesses get larger.

I assume this is because small businesses (and many employees) prefer a pay schedule that's aligned with their (often monthly ) bills for cash flow reasons. Whereas larger businesses prefer to keep payroll expenses from fluctuating a bit depending upon how many days are in a given month.

Nearly 40 years in the US workforce, many, many jobs, not a single one was once a month.

The other child thread helps to explain where my discrepancy came from. Most companies prefer to have a unified pay schedule, so if there are workers in the company that you'd expect to pay bi-weekly/semimonthly (such as hourly wages), the entire company will be put on that schedule.

My own personal experience has been in the post financial crisis tech industry, and I wonder if tech pays monthly more often compared to others (and if funding plays any role in that).

Why do people have the need to take over a market in the first place? There is room in such a big market for many players. Big and small. This obsession with growth is not healthy. I don't care if Uber takes me or Lyft, or Kapten. No brand loyalty here. I do care that SOMEONE takes me safely and at a reasonable price.

>There is room in such a big market for many players. Big and small.

there is no real room for big players which is why Uber's business model is burning investment money and dodging regulations.

Have you ever seen a taxi monopoly? There is no scale effect to this business because adding more drivers and more taxis just drives your costs up linearly, and given the diseases big business suffers from and all the tech overhead of Uber it's probably worse than that.

That's why transportation like trucking or the cab industry is dominated by small business.

I agree, some results were great, but the long term philosophy is bad.

I wonder if it will trigger some social structure / device to avoid too much stagnation without requiring a shark-like company to try wiping the traditional market with infinite pockets.

The alternative is a different app, not Black Cabs. Uber doesn’t provide a unique service beyond a network effect, drivers and customers can almost immediately switch to other apps.

Credit card payments are sort of scammy: they pay you 1% so they can charge vendors 3%

You're not a fan of them but you'll gladly pay them your money? Sounds like righteous hypocrisy to me.

I'm not a fan of them and I've never paid them any money, neither one. They are scum bags.

How will the world improve if you reward what you don't like?

I'm not driven by ideology. And yes. I'm not a fan and I'll pay them if they provide me a service I need at a time I need it. I'm also not a fan of the government but I pay my taxes. I'm upset with Netflix for cancelling great shows but i pay my subscription fee. I despise my regular commute train line. Hate it to levels you cannot imagine - but guess from where I'm typing this? Google is scum, Facebook is scum, Twitter is scum. it's all crap. Yet still I'll use it until a credible alternative rises up. You want to call it hypocrisy - by all means do. I wouldn't care less.

It's not ideology.It's Pavlovian science. If you reward behavior, you get more of it.

And if I stand in the rain because i'm waiting for a black cab or the other app don't have driver's in my area, I get more wet.

The problem with Black Cabs in London is that the drivers go around like they are god's gift to Earth.

Sure "The Knowledge" is an impressive feat of learning, but more often than not the drivers don't make use of it because the best route is not the most profitable one for the driver.

I have lost count of the number of times I have been subjected to the "tourist tax" where the driver heads straight for the major artery roads with their traffic jams (e.g. Kings Road, Strand, Embankment etc.) so you get to sit there watching the meter clock up whilst you move nowhere. Or the number of times the quickest and least-traffic route is South of the river but the driver sticks religiously to the Northen route.

Or the number of times the driver fumbles slowly getting the change, in the expectation that you say "oh forget it, keep the change" ... even if that change is £4 or more !

Or when I've been driving around London only for the Black Cab in front of me to stop on a double-red line to drop off a passenger. Or make a U-Turn in the middle of a busy street.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not fond of Uber either. Their standard of driving is pretty poor, and I hate the way they sit at the Heathrow DROP-OFF area waiting for their next job.

What I am saying is that the London cabbies are in dire need of some stiff competition. Yes I would rather that competition come from someone of better quality than Uber.

Couldn't agree more.

Black Cab drivers seem to think it is somehow their birth right to have a job that charges outrageous amounts, like they are some sort of vital service like the police or ambulance service that needs to be protected no matter what. Bullshit - I bet if they all disappeared tomorrow most non-tourists wouldn't even notice apart from the lack of traffic and diesel pollution near stations.

And "The Knowledge"? yeah yeah yeah...whatever. Most of us had to study full-time and/or in evenings & weekends in order to pass exams to get our jobs too, but that doesn't mean our out-dated and largely obsolete knowledge should be put on a pedestal and protected against more efficient modern tech (1).

The sad reality is that they have TfL by the balls, and that is why this action against Uber is happening. Just as a reminder, the UK's most prolific rapist was a black cab driver who picked people up in his cab then drugged and raped them - they think he raped up to 100 people (2) so it is clear that the vetting for black cab drivers does not actually work (3). Yet despite this, and the obvious parallels of anyone being able to borrow their mates black cab just the same as anyone can borrow their mate's uber login & car - TfL do nothing about Black Cabs.

1 - "the knowledge" only memorises fixed routes. It does not provide information about traffic, road works, accidents etc, but google maps API as used by Uber et al does, so the knowledge is obsolete there.

2 - "The Blackcab Rapist" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Worboys

3 - this guy was not just a "one off" that slipped through the vetting process through a moment of madness or a "who could tell that one day this man would rape someone?" He was a maniac who raped up to ONE HUNDRED people - the UK's most prolific serial rapist in fact - yet the vetting process failed to detect the worst rapist the UK has ever seen and approved him to be a black cab driver. You have to wonder how many small-time rapists also got through the vetting...

Black cabs are not uber's competitor.

Minicabs are.

There is stiff competition, if uber is banned from london permanently, the drivers will be going to one of the three+ alternatives.

Uber's idea isn't new in london, Addison Lee had a "app based booking" since at least 2013. The _only_ thing going for it is that its ubiquitous. Its not even the cheapest.

I rarely get taxis anymore, because frankly its pointless unless you're drunk. However when I have been forced to (wife in hospital, post tube closing time) The fastest, cheapest and most comfortable was the black cab.

Failing that there was a really good minicab firm round the corner from my old house.

Uber is an alternative to Addison Lee (the largest), or the hundreds of local minicab agencies.

The black cabs have different rules and regulations.

Uber competes against local cab firms more than it does 'Black Cabs', which tend to be significantly more expensive. Since Uber came to prominence, two local cab firms that I used to rely on a lot have ceased trading, leaving me with only app-based entities such as Uber.

Uber has its advantages, but as I've moaned about here on HN in the past, its drivers tend to slavishly follow whatever automatatically-derived route it is that Uber spoon feeds them, often meaning they set off in the wrong direction (based upon which side of the road they pick up from) or use routes that anyone who knows the local area (or has The Knowledge) would do their utmost to avoid.

London resident here. I would like to see Uber compared to the existing mini cab companies and black cabs rather than some perfect vision of a taxi company.

Uber took off here easily because existing minicabs were all really really crap. Not just expensive but often rude or incompetent drivers. I would guess a lot of them were unregistered and uninsured and their cars barely road legal.

Black cabs are Better but very expensive and still rip off tourists all the tine by charging without the meter. Even with the meter it was impossible to get any idea how much a trip would cost before you took it. And you needed cash.

Example: One time I got a minicab, it took the guy over half an hour to arrive, then he had to actually find me which took even longer. Then I realised the back seats of the car were full of vomit and he made me ride up front with the windows wide open - it was winter and cold. Then he didn’t know where he was going and got lost and then he charged me £30 for what would have cost £10 on Uber.

Uber, by comparison is great.

If the concern over rider safety was that somebody could pose as an Uber driver and update a photo to make it work, why are black cabs not also deemed unsafe? Couldn't somebody borrow a friend's black cab, slap on a fake photo, and work the city? Maybe a stretch, and more work, but the same concern is there, no? I guess the black cabs have some powerful lobbyists in parliment? Yellow taxis in NYC were a monopoly, and medallions cost a fortune, and somehow it seems to have settled down a bit. Some latecomers to the medallion gig lost a lot in the transistion, but isn't that true of any new jump in technology or service?

I don't know the answer to this, but I suspect it may have something down to the difference in penalty for fraudulent behaviour.

At the very least, if the only penalty is getting booted off the 'platform', getting added to Uber's platform is relatively cheap. Getting added to the black cab 'platform' requires getting licensed, which takes years and costs a lot of money.

I'd imagine that fraudulently impersonating a black cabbie comes with significantly more penalty than getting 'booted off the platform' (license revocation).

Obviously solution is monopoly :D

Well, it's regulation.

Which will have cartelizing effects.

> Couldn't somebody borrow a friend's black cab, slap on a fake photo, and work the city?

There is concern that this is happened in the past and penalties are extremely severe: the owner of the original license will lose their badge and may face criminal charges.

It's a bit hard to describe the taxi market in London to anybody who doesn't live here, but it's a closed shop only to the extent that if you're prepared to do the work to get a badge, it won't cost you $1m like New York, but you will have to put some hours in, and you'll get known by many other black cab drivers.

If you show up with "Dave's cab" and you're not Dave, you're going to get asked questions. Do it a couple of times, and they might decide to pull your badge number up.

A few years ago a genuinely licensed black cab driver was convicted of rape and sexual assault, and as a result the community was shaken: it was the first time in over 300 years where a licensed operator had been convicted of such a crime, and they now look on newcomers with even more suspicion.

There are no lobbyists in parliament, and most black cab drivers I know have modest incomes. They declare an average of £38k/year, but as a cash business (until recently), it was assumed they were actually doing about £50k/year. Good money, but not megabucks.

The system is supported because it's worked for hundreds of years. Their chief complaint against Uber is whether their drivers have to undergo the same amount of vetting as they had to (they don't), and whether the fare structure is fair (it isn't, especially as it's VC-subsidised).

Uber is a great solution in many places that have poor transit and poor taxi solutions already. London isn't one of those places, and hasn't been for hundreds of years.

Thank you for an informative response. I had stayed in London and other areas in England back in the 80's and really found the black cabs very helpful and enjoyable. I think the training and requirements produce a good bunch of workers to serve the industry. The ubiquity of map applications from Google, Apple, and others, seems to have dropped the requirement for a driver to know the best route from experience. I am from New York, but Google Maps has gotten me to where I need to go within the time estimate while I am in Orlando, Florida, with great accuracy. It announced 'Speed Trap' and sure enough a cop pulled out and nabbed a speeder who just flew past me! These things are sometimes known by heavy drivers, but not like they are compiled and delivered by Google Maps.

I guess demeanor, dress, etiquette, and a bunch of other pleasantries are still a commodity, but then again the stereotypical NY cabbie gets their fair share of likes and dislikes from the movies and tourists too. To me, Uber and Lyft are indispensable for doing business across teh US now. I can go away with car rentals where I only need to make a few hops during a day, and I can stay somewhere without worrying about parking or hailing down a cab.

> VC-subsidised

This boogeyman trope needs to die. Uber is not funded by VCs anymore.

Technically, it seems to be "post-IPO equity" subsidised, with a $500 million investment from PayPal in April.


>There are no lobbyists in parliament

Black Cab drivers have the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association lobbying for them politically https://twitter.com/TheLTDA

> why are black cabs not also deemed unsafe?

A black cab driver has made a more significant investment in that license and will be much less likely to jeopardise it than some shmuck loaning out his uberx login -- especially when Uber not only doesn't do anything to stop it, but encourages it with more dark patterns.

> some shmuck loaning out his uberx login

Literally what? Who does this? The app is a source of income, why would anyone share it?

If anything, this ban makes me feel like London is run by a bunch of protectionist luddites.

If I want a night off and my mate is banned from uber/doesn’t have a license/doesn’t have his own car I can give him my login and car keys and ask for 50% of his take home.

I'm honestly pretty cynical about EU laws these days. All they're designed to do is to whack around American tech companies until they cough up $X bn for their coffers.

Not that America is any better these days, NJ recently decided to get into the game and started to go after Uber.

I thought from the article this has nothing to do with EU but with the local municipal transit board of London. This can happen across the world if the local licensing agencies are paying attention to behavior.

I'm always amazed at how fatalist about this sort of thing Londoners are. Like losing Uber will be a massive problem for a huge portion of the population. London has, by FAR, the best, cheapest and most efficient public transport in the entire UK. Uber is, yeah, cheaper than a black cab but also why is it cheaper? Worse working conditions, VC-subsidised, lower standards for vetting (as we've seen here!) It's not sustainable, and while there's obviously a market need for a cheaper app-based minicab service in London, Uber has proven repeatedly that it can't be trusted to do that.

Cost is only one, relatively small, part of Uber's USP in London. The general shittiness of Black Cab drivers about taking you anywhere close to the edges of zone 1 is the biggest issue for me. Night tube only runs on Fri/Sat nights so I literally couldn't get home from a late week night without Uber.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Uber riders blocking taxi ranks if Uber actually stopped operating, Black Cabs serve very few Londoners.

Edit: Not "literally couldn't get home", I would just have to spend over an hour on a night bus.

> I literally couldn't get home from a late week night without Uber.

Don't be ridiculous. Private hire minicabs have existed since the 1960s.

Nowadays you can book most of them via apps as well, either a company's own app (e.g. Addison Lee), or an aggregator like Kabbee.

I assume mentioning AL is a joke. Hadn't heard of Kabbee before though, doesn't look outrageously expensive for one of my common journeys.

I don't know what I'm missing, but why not let customers decide if they want to use a lower standards for vetting service, and let drivers decide if they want worse working conditions. Note that I don't completely agree with your statements, but assuming they're true, my question still stands.

Because the UK - like most of Europe - believes the free market is a poor mechanism to protect vulnerable people from rape and physical assault.

I'm not being flippant here: customers have routinely shown that for lower prices they'll suffer almost anything, to the point that safer alternatives become uncompetitive.

TfL isn't asking for much here: just that drivers are vetted properly and consistently. Every other firm in London is asked to do it, and complies. If Uber can put them all out of business by saving money on not doing that, the market will make the industry less safe for passengers.

We have voted in people to ensure that doesn't happen, because we want protection from the free market, simple as.

Is there actually any data that shows traditional taxis are safer? I bet there isn't because if there was it would have been used by the taxi companies by now.

"A few years ago a genuinely licensed black cab driver was convicted of rape and sexual assault, and as a result the community was shaken: it was the first time in over 300 years where a licensed operator had been convicted of such a crime" - PaulRobinson - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21630846

Do we have any numbers on sexual assaults by Uber drivers in London?

Vetted properly and consistently like John Worboys was?


Because by the time you find out whether a particular company's vetting was good enough, it's far too late. It's a lemon market, and regulation is the standard, economist-approved solution to those.

> Uber is, yeah, cheaper than a black cab but also why is it cheaper?

Another huge reason is that black cab drivers need to pass The Knowledge, a test of London streets, that often takes 3-4 years of study to pass, and AFAIK the requirements for this test haven't changed in the age of smartphones. This is utterly absurd with modern GPS, and just serves as protectionism and a false barrier to entry for new drivers.

This comment is based as can be. I don't care if my driver has memorized the streets 100%. I just want a ride down the street for a halfway reasonable price, and the reason I probably want it is because a car is a bit faster and much more lazy/convenient to get there, especially with 3 friends who don't feel like power walking and changing trains twice.

My friend who is from Woking said that southerners typically viewed everything as an eternal crisis and were always in a rush. He said it was far different moving to the Midlands, and I think it gets less panicky the further north you go.

Perhaps it's a regional condition?

Agreed. I live and work in the second biggest city in the UK and our transport system is 10000% less reliable and more expensive than London. Yet it's still quite adequate. Trains come every 10 minutes, rather than every 2 minutes.

That sounds like a pretty typical urban/rural, economically-productive/less-so distinction. In England that happens to line up somewhat along the N/S axis

But does that make Birmingham "the North"? I don't think so; although it is certainly north of London, it isn't the north and the attitudes in Brum are a bit different to Londonium.

Perhaps it's the London / out of London divide. The BBC certainly has a London-centric approach to news on its all-day news-recycling channel, I noticed.

Something about this doesn't make sense to me.

I take it for granted that the staff at Uber would do anything not to lose the license. I am sure that, for 17 months, they've been investing heavily in security systems, ID verification etc. They must have followed up on every complaint. If I were them, I would have just manually followed everything that the Cabs do till I had a technology in place.

It also seems that the city is making some effort to give them space to improve: 15 months, then 2 months.

So then why didn't the gap close in time? Is this because the technology platform was so massive that turning it just took more time? Or is there something about the details that I can't see?

Edit: I start with the assumption that both Uber and the City are trying to do their best, and don't ascribe nefarious intent to anyone.

You would think Uber Autonomous Vehicles group would do everything they can not to hit pedestrians. Yet according to the NTSB, previous to killing a pedestrian in Arizona Uber had a weak safety culture (https://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Documents/2019-HWY18MH010-B...).

Even worse, "Pedestrian outside crosswalk not assigned goal of crossing street", "Tracking history not considered when classification changes", "Predicted path depended on object’s goal".

Basically they configured it to run over people who crossed outside a sidewalk.

I would not assume Uber are doing their best. Or, insofar as they define "best", it's "what can we do as quickly as possible with no consideration to what is legal".

> "Pedestrian outside crosswalk not assigned goal of crossing street", "Tracking history not considered when classification changes", "Predicted path depended on object’s goal"

To be fair, I could see myself implementing these sort of heuristics to get a working prototype. On the other hand, I deliberately avoid working on life-critical software because of how easily it can go wrong.

I work in AV eng/research, and reading the details of the Uber crash was utterly shocking to me in terms of the corners cut. I can get reflexively frustrated at the slowing of progress and pushing changes induced by our safety constraints and testing, but I've always been pretty happy with the choices we've made. Uber made multiple obscenely negligent choices that I don't think are remotely defensible. There are plenty of hacky heuristics in the industry, but it's pretty central to industry practice to avoid hacks that make you _less_ safe.

A human driver would also follow the same heuristic. That is why it was programmed that way. People don't assume people are going to randomly walk in front of their cars except at cross walks.

Idk about you, but if I see a human start to step into the road I slow down/stop depending on how close they are. Someone stopped and facing the road looking both ways obviously may be attempting to cross, even if "illegally"

I'm enough of a jerk that sometimes, if they are at the edge of the road, I will stop and honk. Even if they are engrossed in their phone. Because, in my jurisdiction, it is illegal to not give the pedestrian the right of way at a crosswalk. Pedestrians who aren't planning on entering the roadway shouldn't stand at a crosswalk and not enter.

OK, but you absolutely wouldn't let a self-driving car out without ernest human supervision or really rigorous testing would you?

That is a very cynical view, one I do not share, but one that it seems is shared by most people here.

But, for the sake of argument, let me grant you that some large subset of the decision makers were callous about these safety concerns.

I don't know how they would still not be sensitive to the need to respond to the authority that has only conditionally let it have its license back. I mean, that sort of threat has a tendency to focus one, even if one is cynical about their motives.

One reason may be the company culture can't do both things at the same time? There's a world of difference between the kind of people and processes you want in a safety-critical project versus a fast-moving app startup.

Uber has to straddle both sides with great risk of leaning toward the wrong side in any particular scenario.

SD vehicles are their pastime, being licenced is their bread and butter (or will be, after the vc well dries up)

One possibility is that, as in the US [0], the London taxi industry has a lot of sway in politics. I'd guess that the taxi lobby had a lot to do with this decision.

“Any London politician wants the black cabs on their side. They carry a political and electoral clout that is way beyond their numbers. There is nothing secret about that,” says Daniel Moylan, who was deputy chairman of TfL under Mr Johnson. [1]

[0] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/07/31/the-t... [1] https://www.ft.com/content/41a0ff40-a383-11e7-9e4f-7f5e6a7c9...

If it were true that this was all caused by black cab drivers pulling strings, Uber would have been thrown out of London years and years ago.

Multiple mayors - including the current PM who was once Mayor of London - have explained that there needs to be an open culture.

There are other private hire vehicle operator firms in London. Addison Lee is huge, and there are many, many "minicab" firms. They all comply with TfL's licensing and vetting procedures. Uber does not.

This isn't "black cabs vs Uber", this is "black cabs, Addison Lee, all the minicab firms, TfL and the Mayor of London demanding basic vetting procedures that everybody else does without question or issue".

Black cabs are in their own category due to The Knowledge and the general vetting process, but if what you say is true, why don't we see Addison Lee, minicabs, Kapten, Bolt and Ola getting the same level of scrutiny? Do we have any reason to believe that any of those have implemented policies and procedures that make them more fit and proper?

That is certainly possible -- although I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.

However, if that were the case, why not just say no license? Why give an opportunity to Uber to show an improvement in their numbers? And why do it twice?

It's not all or nothing, and no one is suggesting that the taxi commission is 100% corrupt and in thrall to Big Taxi. The way they're approaching Uber is likely a compromise between kowtowing to business special interests and serving their constituents (as pretty much all policy in every country is).

it really doesn't. The worst they'll do it block off a bridge.

Plus, there are two taxi systems, the Black cab, and the minicab. There are way more minicabs than black cabs, and they are a much bigger competitor to uber than black cabs.

At the corporate level, Uber has a culture of not complying with orders and doing whatever they want and just paying the fines for doing so (see other Uber-related posts on HN). With that in perspective, it's not surprising they seem to have ignored this.

It's possible that the team dedicated to ensuring that Uber met the requirements in London was doing their best, but were hampered by a lack of resources and a higher policy of "regulation is negotiable" which has worked for them in the US - i.e. a feeling of "if we can't meet the requirements, we're hardly going to get kicked out of the city".

From everything I've seen (and admittedly, that's all hearsay), Uber isn't really interested in "doing their best". Their fundamental philosophy from the get go has been to be "disruptive" by simply ignoring regulations and aim at becoming "too popular to ban".

I would not be surprised one bit to learn that they did very little or even nothing at all to address the concerns.

The headline tells you everything you need to know: they've lost their license, but they'll continue operating. Uber doesn't believe that the government will actually stop them, and so far they've been right.

"Only in the last few months it has been established that 14,000 Uber journeys have involved fraudulent drivers uploading their photos to other driver accounts - with passengers' safety potentially put at risk getting into cars with unlicensed and suspended drivers."

This seems, from a technical perspective, an easy problem to solve with the resources of a public company.

Is it the desperation of people who need the money so badly they will constantly cheat the system? Can you design for that?

This seems, from a technical perspective, an easy problem to solve with the resources of a public company.

Is it the desperation of people who need the money so badly they will constantly cheat the system? Can you design for that?

I don't think the motivation on the part of the drivers who do this is very important. They're intentionally deceiving Uber customers, and in some cases endangering them. That just has to stop, even if the driver is desperate. The point here is that it's Uber's responsibility to stop it happening, and Uber has apparently chosen not to (like you, it's not that hard). That will be very hard to justify, especially as Uber were running TV ads about how they do background checks on all their drivers here in the UK recently.

I'm an Uber driver in the U.S. midwest (so I'm not sure if they're operating the same way in London), but every so often they make me take a live selfie within their app or I cannot accept new rides.

It's a pain in the ass to have to pull over and do this sometimes, but it does seem like they're trying to do the right thing with it. I will say that at first it made me pretty angry, but when I realized the implication - that someone has probably already tried to fraudulently hand control to a different driver - it gave me chills and I realized they may not have many other options.

Other than constant facial recognition via camera pointed at the driver, how does anyone (not just Uber), guarantee that an approved driver doesn’t get out of the car and a non approved driver get in and start driving?

Perhaps a selfie with the driver taken by the passengers during the drive would also suffice.

In my opinion, Uber has done enough. They provide the passenger with the drivers name and photo. It’s up to the passenger to verify, but Uber should make violations easy to report.

>It’s up to the passenger to verify, but Uber should make violations easy to report.

They are. Click a trip, scroll down, click "my driver was unprofessional", click "my driver didnt match the profile in my app".

The problem is most people dont report stuff to uber. I hear stories all the time from people and everytime I ask if they reported the driver they say no.

using the fingerprint reader on a phone to accept any job?

Fingerprint on a phone (either iOS or Android) only authenticates the local phone user, it doesn't really expose any mean of unique identification to the app. So, basically even if you enforce fingerprinting to use the app, it would just authenticate/match whatever fingerprint was registered in the underlying OS.

> Is it the desperation of people who need the money so badly they will constantly cheat the system? Can you design for that?

This is the Internet. If you don't design for people cheating you, they will wreck your system as soon as it becomes popular enough to be visible.

Which is the exact problem. Ubers smaller competitors have no incentive for heavy regulatory features because they can get away with it. That in turn pushes Uber to not implement them either, until the very last moment.

How do you stop one person signing up, doing the whole verification process correctly and then someone else using the app/driving the car? The only safeguard that springs to mind is providing a photo of the driver to the user, but that's already implemented.

You could also do spot checks (no idea if they do or not), but that's not going to eliminate the problem just reduce it.

They have had this since 2016[0]. The problem is you have uber logic behind it. The only time it asks me to verify is when I'm on the highway and turn the app off and back on. I guess they think I'm tossing the phone to the car next to me while going 65?


That happens with taxis too in Australia.

Unauthorised drivers who don't match their picture ID driving.

if you can't design for that, then your business is failing a fundamental requirement

Surely a decent solution would be for the uber driver having to use their fingerprint to initialise the app before every journey (as long as they're not using a galaxy s10)

I wonder what we could do, let's think...maybe...a taxi medalion with a public exam ? :D

They tried to solve the problem from the wrong angle, and it turns out that the high cost of taxis, while suboptimal for sure, might not be entirely for no reason.

I think a better solution to a lot of problems would be to hand out licenses quickly and revoke them quickly. The value of posessing a license can often be questionable but the ability to stop rule breakers is incredibly useful.

Only if the exam is cheap (not easy) and number of medallions is unlimited. (I got your joke, don't worry)

The prices are listed on this page[1]. Looks pretty expensive to me.

[1] https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/taxis-and-private-hire/licensing...

That is for the "black cab" taxis, the ones you can hail by waving on the street.

For a private hire vehicle (the kind you telephone or use an app to book), the price is under £700 (under £500 if the driver speaks English).

That doesn't seem unreasonable. The GP comment was referring to the American system where the license are traded at very high costs (tens, hundreds of thousands of dollars).


Those are the prices for becoming a black cab driver (allowed to respond to street hails and use taxi ranks) - to drive for Uber only requires a "private hire driver" license.

The private hire license avoids the need for "the knowledge" and to have the traditional London black cab. There are still fees involved, of course - but becoming an Uber driver is much less demanding than becoming a black cab driver.

< 1000 pounds for what is basically license for a livelihood seems cheap.

It's pretty amazing how consistently Uber fails to abide by even the most basic regulations. How many times does a billion dollar company get a second chance? Every time this happens people talk about how the Mayor will get in trouble for this, but let's face it, ride hailing apps are 10 a penny. Lyft, Taxify, MyTaxi? No one in London is going to miss Uber.

Do you even live in London? I love when people talk about a whole city in general terms like they can speak for millions of people.

Well get this, I live in London and I love Uber and I would definitely miss Uber if they stopped operating here. So your statement is wrong. In fact, our general slack channel at work had a ton of people posting sad faces about this news. But yeah sure I guess you know what every Londoner thinks...

I live in London, there are plenty of alternatives to Uber, the only downside is they might be like 5-10% more expensive

What you said was correct a year ago but Kapten and Bolt exist now, they’re often the same fare or cheaper than Uber.

Bolt is funded by Chinese money. They're heavily subsidizing rides with that money to capture some of the market and they will have to raise prices eventually.

Uber is funded by Saudi money, same deal.

Uber is not free, it's way past the free stage.

I saw few acquaintances trying Bolt (in London) and the main argument is the first rides are free, then the next rides are free too if you refer a friend.

While not free, VC funds are still subsidizing Uber rides and driver incentives.

Yes, thanks I do "even live in London". In fact, I've lived in and around London all my life. Uber is fine, it's about as great as any of the other identical apps, and frankly, is far worse than being familiar with the local public transport 99% of the time inside London.

Uber exited our market of Southeast Asia and we are left with a giant monopoly (Grab) that intends to become a SuperApp a-la WeChat in China. That is a scary prospect.

Their race to the bottom was absolutely beneficial to consumers while it was going on. Smaller rivals have nowhere near the resources of Uber when competing with Grab.

We surely missed Uber when it left.

London and the UK has plenty of other taxi companies with an app for consumers to choose from (which are following the rules one assumes). So your experience in Southeast Asia although depressing is irrelevant.

> Taxify


> MyTaxi



This is an interesting thing.

Free Now for instance, previously MyTaxi, previously Hailo. How many time will this thing get rebranded? How many times will my data be shared with new entities?

I deleted the app. I presumed Hailo/MyTaxi had been taken over. FreeNow just sounds like a scam. Saw no reason to open up the app to find out.

It's legit. They just got bought or partnered or something with BMW, and the business is intended to consolidate with bike sharing and some other stuffs in Europe.

I ride with FreeNow in my city, just as I did with MyTaxi before. Same drivers, same app, same prices, just different colors (and slightly less favorable terms of employment, from what I've heard from the drivers during the time of transition).

FreeNow is as good as it's ever been. Better, in fact. It's the only app I use for this kind of thing as it uses legit, local taxis.

have you ever wondered what makes services like Uber affordable? 1) underpaid drivers 2) VC money dropped into an otherwise unsustainable business

I'm pretty sure Uber will raise prices the moment it kills the competition

The affordability is only one thing that draws people to Uber. The convenience of the app and the fact that the fare is prepaid (and therefore there is no incentive for the driver to fuck around to inflate their fare) are imho at least as important. If the fare is known in advance I can make an informed decision about whether I can afford this ride. Taking a normal taxi is just always a gamble: will they try to win me over by taking the short route? Will they try to fuck me over? Will they get far and then say that they only accept cash, thus driving me to an ATM and charging even more? Who knows!

In London, for decades there have been competing services to the black cabs: minicabs. They had to be booked in advance (by phone, but that translates easily to booking by app), and the price had to be agreed in advance.

From my understanding, this might be called "limousine service" in the USA, although unless you make a special request it will just be a fairly normal car.

Mobile phones and then apps made the border between the two services fuzzier, but they are still separate things.

Stupid question: did they actually translate minicabs to an easy smartphone UX before Uber got involved?

I can't comment on "easy" (I never used it), but the largest company, Addison Lee, had an app in 2010, five years before Uber launched in London.


"Limo service" in the US tends to mean a more upscale black car service. (Which is how Uber actually got started.) And, outside of markets like Manhattan, it usually requires booking a day or two in advance--although there's some flexibility, especially for regular customers.

There are competing services. In Nottingham I use DG Cars, which is a taxi company but has an app that looks like Uber (you can see the drivers, fixed price, paid in advance by app). They just need to be more popular and maybe make it so that I don't have to have an account for all of them.

Totally agree. And going further in the bad-intentioned-driver topic: There's also the issue with tourist getting fake curruncy, for expamle here in Buenos Aires a friend visiting from South Africa got fake pesos as change after paying in dollars. After that she only took Ubers.

That's why I differentiated my like and dislike. As a consumer, it's a service I use. I would use anyone who gave me that service and driver-mass. As a citizen of the net, I dislike them for their practices. But to be perfectly honest I rather call an uber than stand in the rain waiting for a black cab.

There are a couple of apps you can use to get a black cab. They help to avoid an annoying argument with the driver about cash vs card and you can wait inside until the cab arrives. Uber is still cheaper though (excepting surge pricing) and late at night both have patchy availability to be honest.

i understand that, but we should also understand that black cabs don't have softbank showering billions to subside uber rides and at the same time squeeze any possible costs out of their drivers.

I totally get that. And you know what, If black cabs were nicer, not THAT expensive, and, available(!) I'd be happy to use them. But they are, like all unionised services, stuck in the 70s. I don't mind paying more. I do mind paying a LOT more for less. I am totally aware Uber is subsidised. But what makes uber uber, is their availability and ease of use.

> underpaid drivers

This is and always will be a matter of opinion.

Uber is not putting a gun to anyone's head. If it's not profitable for you to drive, you don't have to.

Except then you can't eat? It's not that it's not profitable, it's that the earnings drivers make are meager compared to what people need to sustain themselves. You make it sound like anybody who's on minimum wage just doesn't realise that they could go elsewhere for higher wages!

> Except then you can't eat?

In an era of record low unemployment (in the US at least), claiming that it's "Uber at low wages or you don't eat" is kind of a ridiculous hyperbole.

Unemployment numbers aren't relevant when you're saying that people can ignore an entire class of jobs though. What percentage of those employed people are driving for Uber or equivalent and would love to get another job themselves? That's your employee competition pool.

Always fascinated by the idea that paying someone $8/h is a crime, but paying them $0/h is perfectly fine.

Such enormous cognitive dissonance. We humans are so good at that.

Unemployed people have various forms of legal protection in place that "underemployed" people don't. You can claim unemployment because you were fired, but not because your hours were cut.

The idea that minimum wages kills jobs is not as well supported as you might think. People commonly take overly-simplified econ 101 labor market theories as gospel when the empirical evidence about the effects of minimum wage increases is decidedly mixed: https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/11/20/20952151/shoul...

I'm not talking about that.

I just find it crazy that in the scenario where Uber pays someone poor $8/h while I pay them 0$/h, Uber is the bad guy, while I am completely blameless.

The only actor actually paying the poor person is somehow the problem!

It's hard for me to come up with a logical framework that supports that conclusion. So I think it's not actually a matter of logic.

Paying someone $0 to work for you would be illegal too.

What they're saying is that the worker either gets 8/hour with a job or 0/hour with no job. I'd rather have the job.

And before it was illegal, people preferred for their five year olds to have the job too.

It's baiting people who don't understand the costs associated, eg change in insurance premium if they were to correctly register & insure themselves.

Uber outsources all the risk and fees that taxi companies would have to cover.

No indeed there's no gun, and luckily if you can't afford a car to drive, Uber would love to sell you a subprime auto loan as see on FTC TV: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2017/01/...

I wonder if we would all feel the same about some other ponzi scheme.

Since drivers can't set their own rates, I've always felt the government should regulate the split. Uber's portion should be capped at something like 5%. The marginal cost for them to connect a driver to a rider is close to 0 so even 5% feels very generous.

That's not the job of the government to regulate margins of businesses. If you go by that way, then you might as well regulate every margin of every app store?

At least in the US, they do it all the time. The job of the government is mostly to do what we tell it to do because the government is just people from the community.

The government should (and does) regulate the margins of natural monopolies like utilities where a free market can't operate effectively.

That is the governments job.

They aren't regulating an app on the store, they would be in this hypothetical scenario regulating the labor practices of a multinational corporation, which is for sure the job of any government.

A great idea.

Thats what taxation does anyway

Say we implemented this scenario, can we walk though what would happen next:

- What do you expect would happen to Uber prices?

- How do you expect that change would affect overall demand for the service?

- From there, how do you expect this change of demand (if any) would affect the take-home pay of the drivers?

> What do you expect would happen to Uber prices?

That would depend on how much money Softbank has left to invest. Prices might go up.

> How do you expect that change would affect overall demand for the service?

Uber's great advantage is that the quality of service is better than the alternatives. If drivers can make more money, more drivers might sign up and wait times would drop. A better experience means the service will be used even more.

> From there, how do you expect this change of demand (if any) would affect the take-home pay of the drivers?

There are two parts to this. First Uber should have to make sure no driver ever makes less than minimum wage. If a driver starts the app to announce their availability and has the app running for four hours, they are entitled to a minimum of four hours of pay.

The second part is that I think getting 95% of the fare would mean drivers take-home pay is generally higher than it is today. If Uber wants to make more money by raising the rate, then drivers automatically get a pay increase as well and that seems fair.

Drivers can set their own rates, or at least to the success a bidding process would work. If the rate is to low, don't work. If there was a bidding process I wouldn't be surprised if you saw rates actually drop.

I doubt that their margin is much higher than that after factoring in discounts.

I may be wrong, but I don't think the driver keeps 95% of the fare.

Keep in mind that Uber's revenue was $3.6 billion in the last quarter, but they lost $1.2 billion. I wouldn't be surprised if their margin was negative.

Really the problem is not that Uber gets paid too much, but that drivers are underpaid. I think a minimum wage for drivers is a better solution. In California such a law is currently underway.

I mentioned minimum wage in another comment. If a driver has the app open for four hours, they need to be paid a minimum of four hours of minimum wage.

> Uber is not putting a gun to anyone's head.

But their platform has a near-monopoly in many markets, which they use to set prices while simultaneously classifying drivers as independent contractors.

>while simultaneously classifying drivers as independent contractors.

They are independent contractors. There's no time you have to be at work. There's no amount of time you have to work a given day of the week, or during the whole week. If they were forced to turn them into employees, that would all go away.

I understand, but in certain jurisdictions your viewpoint is being challenged. See: AB 5 in California or an announcement from the state of New Jersey that Uber owes $640 million in back taxes and fines for misclassifying employees.

I personally have a moral problem with drivers not being allowed to charge their own rate while simultaneously being labeled independent contractors.

There are many countries where free speech is regularly challenged, that doesn't make it right.

Especially in New Jersey's case trying to retroactively tax them. California at least is just changing a law.

3) Undermining the cartels of some of the most vulnerable sectors of society. 4) Shifting ressources from railway to road transit from the 1920s onwards as well as severe cuts to public transit in the 1960s and 1980s. That last point might seem like a long shot but I think it is accurate considering that the externalities of private transit are being paid by society as a whole.

They already have! Repeatedly. And lowered the cut paid to drivers.

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