The last few weeks have seen Uber on a massive charm offensive ahead of the ruling on their London Licence, which is due to start on the 30th April 2018.
16 January – Uber Introduces a Limit on Drivers’ HoursUber drivers now have to take an uninterrupted 6 hour break for every 10 hours worked. The firm also now send regular reminders to take a break. Critics say this new measure is meaningless as it doesn’t take into account the time spent waiting for a job, and drivers can still be logged in more than 100 hours a week. Steve McNamara of the LTDA called it a “toothless PR stunt”: “This is a toothless cap that still allows Uber’s drivers to work over 100 hours a week, and is a PR stunt that will not improve passenger safety.” “Uber can’t claim its drivers are self-employed and aren’t subject to minimum wage, but then try to limit the hours that they can work.” “Unlike Uber drivers, all black cab drivers undertake enhanced driving tests and as such are well aware of the dangers of working long hours. This high standard of safety is reflected in the low number of accidents involving licensed black cab drivers”.
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association
14 February – Uber introduces geo-fencingIn a bid to appease their detractors on the matter of cross-border hiring, Uber has announced in February that from the 14th of March 2018, Uber drivers will only be able to operate in the area they have been licensed in. The move sounds more like yet another PR exercise than a legitimate and efficient way to sort out this issue of cross-border hiring. This attempt at geo-fencing doesn’t appear to be an effective or appropriate solution to cross border hiring. More info on our previous blog: Cross-border Hiring: Uber Playing “Good Cop”?
19 February – Uber drops English language test appealUber has dropped their opposition to the English Language test for London drivers, a move seen as part of a charm offensive to regain their licence – TfL are modifying the test to make it more Private Hire specific, but still up to the standard of the B1 British Citizenship lest. The Licensed Private Hire Car Association that represents over 200 of London’s private hire operators remains in opposition to the proposals.
15 March – Uber Launches Uber Movement in LondonIn possibly the most ironic move for a company constantly criticised for their handling of personal data, Uber has announced that they will share millions of “anonymised” trip data, in order to help Cities improve their infrastructure and transport…
“We’ve heard feedback from the cities we operate in that access to some of our aggregated data could help inform transport policy and future investments.”
“We want to be a better partner to city planners and regulators, so we hope this data will help give them valuable insights for the future.”
Fred Jones, Uber’s Head of UK CitiesThe launch comes a month after TfL said that operators should “share travel pattern data to improve understanding of their services”, so it is hard to believe that the motive isn’t once again to please the regulator in a bid to win their upcoming appeal.