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London Uber Protest: Taxi Drivers Snarl Traffic to Oppose Rideshare App

Image: London Uber Protest: Taxi Drivers Snarl Traffic to Oppose Rideshare App
Taxi drivers to cause travel chaos. Black cab and licensed taxi drivers protest in London over the introduction of a phoneapp called Uber.

By    |   Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 10:07 AM

Taxi drivers staged traffic-snarling protests in London and other major European cities Wednesday in protest of their competitor, Uber, a new smartphone-based car service.

"We have nothing against competition but we feel that Transport for London has failed Londoners by allowing Uber to operate outside the law," Steve McNamara, a member of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), told BBC News. McNamara is one of the 4,000 drivers Scotland Yard estimated took part in the London strike.

At issue is Uber's use of their smartphone app as an alleged taxi meter, which only licensed cabbies are allowed to use. Derrick Hoare, of the LTDA, also told The Independent that the union aimed to highlight the four to seven years of training they undergo before getting a license.

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The drivers gathered in Trafalgar Square around 2 p.m., shutting down traffic in the area. They stuck to their one-hour time frame allotted by Metropolitan Police.

Because the case against Uber is currently winding through the court system, Garrett Emmerson, Transport for London's chief operating officer for surface transport, told reporters ahead of the protest, "A number of taxi drivers are set to cause pointless disruption for Londoners over a legal issue that is down to the courts to decide upon."

Upon the completion of the protest, Uber spokesman Jo Bertram told reporters that the company's user registrations skyrocketed 850 percent.

"Londoners are voting with their fingers, tapping the app in support of new and innovative services as we see our biggest day of sign-ups in London today since launch two years ago," he said. He criticized the LTDA, saying the union was "stuck in the dark ages" and holding London "to ransom."

Critics of the protest celebrated the news of the increased sign-ups, noting that the road blocking was estimated to cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars in lost efficiency.

Taxi drivers in Madrid, Milan, Berlin, and Paris also showed solidarity in their respective cities by staging similar protests.

The San Francisco-based Uber now operates in over 100 in 30 countries, and was recently valued at more than $17 billion.

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Taxi drivers staged traffic-snarling protests in London and other major European cities Wednesday in protest of their competitor, Uber, a new smartphone-based car service.
london, uber, taxi, protest
377
2014-07-12
Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 10:07 AM
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