City AM reports that Uber is again turning to its customers to help it fight “bureaucratic” new rules imposed by Transport for London, including an English exam “harder than the test for British citizenship”, renewing its feud with regulators in the capital.
The billion-dollar company said the rules would “threaten the livelihood of thousands of drivers”, reducing their numbers and thus increasing the waiting times for users in an email directly appealing to customers and authored by Uber’s top boss in London, Tom Elvidge.
The new rules were given the greenlight by TfL in March following a long-running and public battle between the two sides and London’s black cab drivers.
At the time, Uber welcomed the result of TfL’s review after it dropped proposals that would enforce users to wait five-minutes after ordering a cab, even if there was a car available instantly.
Now, Uber is urging customers to email the newly elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to demand the rules – formulated after a comprehensive consultation conducted by TfL under the former Mayor Boris Johnson – are looked at afresh.
It’s understood that while the broad conclusions of the review are accepted, the finer details and exact form the rules will take, hammered out over the last few months, are more onerous than Uber had been expecting.
Uber has called into question the English language requirement rule – which it claims is harder than the test for British Citizenship and more than the requirements for becoming a Tube driver.
It has also called out a requirement for part-time drivers to have costly full-time commercial insurance even when they’re not driving, as well as the need for Uber to tell TfL of any changes to its app, which it argues would slow down the roll out of new features.
The latter two rules now already apply while the rule on English language tests will come into force from 1 October.
Those who receive the email are asked to click on a link to email the Mayor, leading to an already written reply which even signs a users name at the end automatically.
Of course, unlike Tube drivers, minicab drivers do have to communicate with passengers, you would naturally assume speaking English in the nation’s capital to a reasonable degree would (and should) be a minimum acceptable standard, especially in an industry where drivers have direct contact with passengers.
The requirement to have full time hire and reward insurance merely brings London in line with the rest of the UK – a licensed vehicle is always a licensed vehicle – this has been the law since the case of Benson v Boyce [HC QBD] 1997.