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Uber slammed for hiking up taxi fares during London tube strikes



Taxi app Uber has attracted yet more criticism after pumping up prices during yesterday’s London tube strike.

The controversial company almost tripled the cost of journeys, with minimum fares costing £14.50, while London’s tube services were down.

While sat in traffic, customers were charged 43p per minute instead of the usual 15p per minute.

Uber has defended its ‘surge pricing’ system, saying that demand was “off the charts”, and that higher fees in times of heavy demand encourage more drivers to take on journeys.

“Drivers work on the Uber platform on a completely flexible basis, as much or as little as they want,” said a company spokesman.

“During times of peak demand - when demand massively outstrips supply - fares increase temporarily to incentivise more drivers to work on the platform. As soon as the demand drops or supply increases, the price comes back down.”

However, the move didn’t go down so well with others, in particular Steve McNamara, the head of the London Taxi Drivers Association.

“If [Uber] achieve their goal of market domination by forcing their competitors out of the market… today’s prices and experiences will become the norm,” he said.

Unfortunately for Uber, even its cheapest services have caused outrage.

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Earlier this month, the firm pulled UberPOP in France after Prime Minister Manual Valls said it gives “a deplorable image to visitors to our country.”


July 10, 2015, 11:55 am

FFS, don't like it, don't use it....

Probably the same whining preachy F-Wits that actually supported the tube drivers strike. They don't like to see any free market activity...

They are cheaper most of the time, and expensive when demand is high. Trains do it, planes do it, gyms do it... pay more at peak


July 10, 2015, 12:37 pm

I agree, free market economics, everyone (who can) does it.

Hamish Campbell

July 10, 2015, 1:06 pm

If you've had your eyes open in the last few decades you might have noticed that, if left unregulated, free markets have some negative consequences.

It is worth discussing these, and seeing if there are ways of avoiding them.

What is alluded to here is the propensity of free markets to move to a monopoly, if this happens with Uber then you'll see these types of things being exploited to the detriment of consumers and society.

We all need to remember that a free market isn't a goal, benefiting our society is the only goal.


July 10, 2015, 1:25 pm

Ok. So let's discuss. What alternative would you suggest? Price regulation? I don't think anyone wants that.

Maybe it will be different in the long term. The way I see it at the moment, the London Taxi Drivers are the ones with the de facto monopoly. Uber is acting as the disruptor. The taxi drivers have actually got such an entrenched monopoly on car pick-up services that only something radically different like Uber is going to break the market.

I think the relative benefits of Uber are well proven and agreed upon by most, which is exactly why the taxi drivers feel so threatened, and why Steve McNamara is so keen to seize upon any perceived problem with Uber. If he was so concerned about prices, let's see the LTA drop their own prices in line with Uber during the rest of the year when the tube workers are not on strike!

The writing is on the wall for taxis and has been for ages. The LTA should have entered into a strategic partnership with Uber. They can still offer certain unique benefits, like the ability to transport a child still strapped into a buggy. Such a missed opportunity for them...

Hamish Campbell

July 10, 2015, 1:38 pm

I believe there is already price regulation on normal taxi's.

And I agree there are issues with LTA's monopoly.

I think Uber could well be a positive disruptor, however they seem to have not interest in addressing some of the areas that regulations have tried to address

Workers rights and fair employment conditions
Checks of drivers
Appropriate tax contributions in the countries they operate.
And I suppose we could now add, price gouging.

These are things that free markets do not address, and Uber seems keen to avoid following the regulations that taxi companies are obliged to.

Now, I'm not a UK resident so not up to speed on that specific environment, but I would be keen to know if you are aware of the impact that mini-cabs had on normal taxi companies, when they started (I'm assuming they weren't always around). Surely a number of these issues were interesting then too?

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