Uber says it is opening access to its ride-hailing app to drivers of London’s iconic Black Cabs without discussing the move with their association, which has been waging a campaign against the operator for more than a decade.
The app will be available next year to cabbies registered as Hackney Carriage drivers who have passed "The Knowledge" examination test to prove they can navigate the city without maps or navigation devices. Entrants take years of study to memorize the 25,000 city streets plus notable landmarks and company headquarters.
Now Uber hopes these drivers will join the app in a “partnership” alliance with the company. However, the BBC reports the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Assn. (LTDA), representing more than 10,000 members, said it was not consulted ahead of Uber's “unilateral announcement” and that joining would be “sullying the trade.”
The association has been fighting against the Uber service since it arrived in the city in 2012, citing a myriad of allegations of passenger abuse from criminal drivers using fake identities to operating without driving licenses or insurance. It championed the movement against the company that saw the regulator, Transport for London, suspend its license to operate in 2017, accusing it of having “a lack of corporate responsibility” with “public safety and security implications.”
The LTDA's general secretary, Steve McNamara, says there is “no demand for this partnership” from the drivers. London's cabbies, he says, have seen “significant growth since the pandemic, with record demand for cabs, more work through taxi apps and huge levels of investment being made in new electric taxis. We don't believe our members will even consider joining the app, given its well-documented poor record on everything from passenger safety to workers' rights in London.”