Transport for London is’in bed’ with Uber
TfL has been accused “kowtowing to Uber” at the expense of London’s struggling black taxi industry
London’s taxi industry has taken a hit in recent years
Transport for London has been accused of showing “unjustified and damning bias” in favour of Uber and of “bullying” a British startup that believes it can support struggling black taxis.
Gabriel Campos, CEO of Maaxi, a new mobile app that enables users to share a black cab, said that TfL is trying to block the British startup’s success and accused the local government body of hurting the taxi industry.
TfL has refused to include Maaxi on its website section for taxi apps, which currently features Kabbee, ComCab, Hailo and Get Taxi among several others, and sent a letter to Mr Campos hours before Maaxi’s release suggesting that he “consider postponing the launch” of the app.
In the letter, Peter Blake, director of service operations for TfL’s Surface Transport division, warned Mr Campos that “there could be licensing implications for drivers working for Maaxi”.
TfL also blocked Maaxi’s sponsorship of a rainbow-coloured taxi that will drive in TfL’s part of the Pride parade in London, The Telegraph has learned.
“It’s become very obvious that we are being bullied by TfL,” Mr Campos said, adding that Maaxi is not subject to TfL regulation but taxis and their drivers are. “It’s like a police officer stopping you when you’ve done nothing wrong, but you still have to stop and show your ID. We cannot operate this way.”
TfL said that no new apps are being added to its website while its inclusion policy is under review and that another company had already been lined up for the Pride deal.
Taxi drivers went on strike last summer to protest “the inefficient manner in which TfL manages taxi and private hire in London”, said the LTDA’s Steve McNamara
The black cab industry has suffered with the advent of GPS and taxi apps, losing net 300 drivers over the last year.
“Maaxi wants to launch a perfectly legal sharing system that will bring taxi rides to a large swathe of Londoners who don’t use them … and TfL is finding a reason why it can’t launch” said Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association. He said it “beggars belief” and accused TfL of having “an agenda that certainly isn’t pro taxi” and of “kowtowing to Uber”, saying that the two are “in bed together”.
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Jo Bertram, Uber’s general manager for the UK, called these claims “completely untrue”, adding, “the amount of scrutiny [by TfL] that we underwent is probably unprecedented in the industry.”
Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of Surface Transport, said, “We have not treated, and do not treat, Uber any differently to any other London operator.”