Uber has finally responded to all the commotion against its app and transportation services offered in London. And it was rather polite while doing so.
"There has been a lot of discussion of late about London’s transportation ecosystem – and the revolutionary way Uber is delivering more and better options to Londoners. With so much chatter about us, we thought it was about time to jump in and clarify a few things. After all, transparency is a top priority for Uber", explained Uber in a blog post on Tuesday.
Uber is a mobile app that connects passengers with screened drivers of vehicles for hire. You don't have to make a reservation or wait in a taxi line to use Uber. Just compare rates for different verified vehicles and services through Uber, then add a credit card to your account, and set your pick-up location on a map. Uber also lets you check the progress of your car and the route a driver took before paying.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association in London announced earlier this month that it would cause a city-wide gridlock to protest against Uber, a smartphone app that provides taxi-like services. Black-cab drivers in London view Uber as an illegal service simply because it is illegal for private vehicles to operate with taximeters, and the LTDA views the Uber app as an equivalent to a taximeter.
Uber however has disagreed with that view: "Uber has been fully licensed as a Private Hire Operator since our launch in London nearly two years ago, and we meet all the required private hire regulations. As per the regulations, cars using the Uber platform do not have a taximeter – TFL have confirmed that smart phones used by private hire drivers do not constitute the equipping of a vehicle with a taximeter", Uber wrote.
Although Uber allows private (but background-checked) drivers to calculate fares, similar to a taximeter, the Transport for London has determined Uber doesn't breach the law. The LTDA wants to fight that decision with a demonstration in June that could attract thousands of cabs and cause severe chaos, congestion, and confusion across the metropolis. The LTDA is also seeking a judicial review of Uber.
"As a licensed operator, Uber London accepts the bookings and manages the dispatch of drivers through its dispatch system, monitored and controlled by our local operations team here in London", Uber added. "Our mission is to keep London moving in the safest, most efficient way possible and we will continue to put consumer choice and safety, and driver opportunity, first."
And finally, even though the LTDA called Uber an "American monster" earlier this month, Uber has now described London cabbies as "arguably the best taxis in the world". However, the company also said London's transportation industry isn't competitive and hasn't evolved in years and thus "there is room for all and there is room for more and better".