Uber cars from London are flooding into Bristol for work, leaving local taxi drivers angry and out of pocket. Dozens of the private hire cars have been spotted taking fares in the city – even though they are licensed in the capital.
Taxi drivers based in Bristol say it is damaging to point they have considered strike action in a bid for authorities to clamp down on the influx.
It is not illegal for Uber drivers based elsewhere to work in Bristol, as long as they fill the right licensing criteria. But Transport for London, which licenses taxis in the capital, said a ‘grey area’ could make it easier for cabbies based in the capital to take jobs in Bristol.
Photos sent to the Post reveal scores of Uber cabs registered to TfL working in Bristol.
“It’s affected everyone’s earnings to a point where I’m probably at least 10 to 15 per cent down on what I was earning last year,” said Bristol-based driver Bill Sawyer, who has been taking fares in the city for 26 years.
“They’re quite clearly working here full time and nothing is being done about it.”
Mr Sawyer, who drives for V Cars and also works for Uber occasionally, is one of dozens of drivers angry that London-drivers are taking fares in Bristol. A WhatsApp group used by more than 250 taxi drivers in Bristol is now being used regularly to point out TfL-licensed cars.
An Uber spokesman said the company, which works in 60 countries, encourages its drivers to work in the authority they are licensed – but ‘does not instruct partners on where they should work’.
He added: “Private hire drivers are able to start or end a trip anywhere in the UK provided that their private hire licence and vehicle licence match the licensed operator that processes their booking.”
Mr Sawyer said he has been picked up by London-licensed drivers when using Uber as a passenger, but that some of those drivers have insisted they are Bristol-based. Striking was ‘a serious consideration’, he said.
A Transport for London spokesman said working between cities is legal ‘as long as the booking goes through’ where a driver is licensed.
“It’s a grey area because you don’t know how the booking is accepted, so if the booking is accepted in London then it’s legal,” he said.
“If a driver is licensed and their vehicle is licensed and the operator is licensed in the same place, they can then operate in other parts of the country. With Uber there is an operating centre in London and as long as a driver and vehicle are licensed they could go and work in Bristol.”
A Bristol City Council spokesman said: “Private hire operators can perfectly legally subcontract bookings between operators.”
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