Is this a major blow to operators?
In a major blow to Uber and large minicab operators in the capital, the cost of operating is set to rise even further after the transport regulator confirmed an overhaul of its fees in a bid to add nearly £1m to its bill.
Transport for London is reportedly planning to charge a maximum fee of £2.9m for the largest minicab firms to operate in the capital, amending its original plans to increase it to £166,000. The changes were made after the industry warned that the extra costs would put small and medium-sized firms out of business. Now operators such as Uber and Addison Lee will pay more and just a few of the smallest will pay less.
Transport for London currently has only fee tiers, with firms operating two vehicles charged £1,488 for a five-year permit and those operating three or more vehicles charged £2,826.
Confirming this development, Helen Chapman, general manager of Taxi & Private Hire said, “There has been a huge growth in the industry in recent years and it is only fair that the licence fee reflects the costs of regulation and enforcement.”
Safety of Londoners is TfL’s top priority and the increased fees will help us fund additional compliance officers who do the crucial job of “cracking down on illegal and dangerous activity”, Chapman added.
Uber’s is due to be renewed at the end of September and the transport operator has been facing mounting pressure over the matter. A cross-party group of 10 MPs has urged TfL to strip Uber of its licence by signing a letter written by Labour MP Wes Streeting, the chair of an all-party parliamentary group on taxis.
The MPs claim that Uber is an “unfit and improper operator” that does not do enough to protect passenger safety in London. Their accusation is specifically towards Uber’s apparent failure to report sex attacks by drivers on passengers, as well as its questionable business practices.
Uber said in a statement: “An Uber spokesman said the company was taking steps to improve security for its drivers and that they are paid more than the minimum wage, enjoying the flexibility offered by the app.”