Uber, the ride-hailing platform, has announced that London’s black cabs will soon be able to offer rides starting in early 2024. This move comes in an attempt to end the contentious rift between Uber and the city’s signature taxi service. Drivers will be able to see a destination up front and book passengers through the Uber app. However, it is unclear if many cabbies will sign up.
The two companies have been adversaries for over a decade, with black cabs being a staple of London transportation since 1634. Cabbies must pass a difficult exam called “the Knowledge” to earn their badges. On the other hand, Uber has lower entry barriers for its drivers and has expanded its services to include train rides, boat rides, and flights.
Uber framed the announcement as a partnership and offered new drivers a deal with no percentage of their fare going to Uber for the first six months. Despite this, many London cabdrivers have expressed opposition to this partnership. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, a union representing a majority of the city’s cab drivers, stated that there was “no demand” for such a partnership. Taxi drivers are unlikely to join the platform, and they see it as a step down for professional drivers.
While the company is “incredibly happy” with the progress made on the first day, the taxi trade union is skeptical that Uber will find enough drivers to offer the service. The tensions between Uber and local taxi industries have been ongoing worldwide, and after numerous protests in London, Uber’s license was not renewed in 2019 but was restored the following year. Taxi drivers in other cities such as New York, Rome, and Paris already use Uber to book services, but London’s taxi trade union said that they are available on other apps and don’t need another platform.