A few weeks ago, after I wrote a piece criticising the Uber ban in London, I received a considerable amount of pushback on Twitter, from people I can only assume are affiliated with the black cab industry.
I spent the day debating with them, some made good, substantive arguments, others quickly launched into ad hominem.
If you had 2 less cocktails in Sexy Fish you would have plenty of money to get home safely. You need get your priorities in order.
— Bob (@blackcab66) September 28, 2017
Most of them didn’t make any new or novel points that I hadn’t already addressed in my piece. Largely, their criticism of Uber revolved around “safety” issues, which I don’t think the actual data on the matter supports.
There is one point, however, I will acknowledge that was not explored in my article, that Uber and the black cabs are not operating on a level regulatory playing field. For instance, Black cab drivers have to spend a great deal of time and money preparing for the difficult “The Knowledge” exams, which they must pass before they can begin taking passengers, something which drivers of private hire vehicles such as Uber do not have to do.
The new industrial revolution is upon us.
I agree that is unfair and makes it much harder for the black cab industry to compete with Uber. But, surely, the solution is to deregulate the whole industry rather than banning Uber?
The fact is that Uber has created a model which has proved wildly popular. The demand for that is not just going to go away. People have flocked to Uber because it provides an affordable and reliable service. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live, people will sensibly make savings where they can. Not only that, but the innovative and sophisticated technology Uber has built is hard to match. This is the world we are living in now and in the very near future we will witness even more incredible leaps and bounds in software development and artificial intelligence. We cannot close our eyes to this and pretend it’s not happening or, like the Luddites, try and forcibly prevent it from happening. The new industrial revolution is upon us.
Regulations should not stand in the way of the black cab industry trying to compete with companies like Uber in this new environment. But black cabs shouldn’t use that same regulation to try and ban competitors.
Featured Image Credit: Uber.com