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London cabbies set to protest against Uber

Another week, another negative headline for app-based taxi service Uber, with London cabbies to protest against the controversial service later.

Claiming that Uber is stepping on their toes as London’s only lawful taximeter-based cab service, the United Cabbie’s Group (UCG) will conduct a ‘drive slow’ between Transport for London HQ and Victoria Station.

The disruption causing protest is set to kick off at 2pm. Last year saw similar protests conducted around Tradalgar Square and, more recently, Oxford Street.

Uber has courted criticism around the world in recent months, with the taxi service repeatedly ruffling feathers with local licensed bodies.

Much of the issue stems from Uber’s fare system and its ‘race to the bottom’ approach at undercutting rivals.

Although the app – which lets you virtually hail a cab – can estimate a fare amount, this can fluctuate massively based on eventual journey distance and time. The UCG claims this constitutes a taximeter, a feature that, by law, only black cabs are allowed to use in London.

The group has also suggested Uber’s approach to the market is leaving licensed taxi drivers with decreased earning options.

As you might expect, TfL isn’t best pleased with the proposed protests, claiming the action will “unnecessarily disrupt Londoners and visitors to the Capital.”

In a statement to the Independent, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport, Garrett Emmerson, added: “Just like the previous protest on Oxford Street, it will achieve nothing other than to disrupt life and business in London.”

He added: “We are determined to protect the livelihoods of all legitimate taxi and private hire drivers through robust enforcement action.”

Related: What is Uber and why has it caused a black cab protest

Despite TfL’s strong words, it has been suggested that the authority is out of position to answer the concerns surrounding Uber.

“TfL has said that apps such as Uber will not damage the long term prospects of the licensed taxi trade, but the Mayor and TfL need to be prepared for the inevitable consequences of a transport environment in which technology is evolving faster than the legislation that is needed to govern its use,” a recent Transport Committee ‘Future proof’ report stated.