London’s transport regulator has said that car service startup Uber can legally operate in the British capital.
Transport for London (TfL) said Thursday that the ride-sharing service was free to continue working in London. The ruling comes in defiance of last month’s cab driver strikes held in the city and elsewhere across Europe in protest of Uber. Many cabbies argue that Uber, a San Francisco-based startup, was stealing business from them. They say Uber doesn’t follow local rules and doesn’t pay sufficient tax.
Uber, which lets customers book drivers via a smartphone app, says it’s an innovator in a rigidly conservative industry.
In a statement to the TfL board, Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, which governs London’s above-ground transit options, noted that other cab companies have alleged Uber is not a licensed Private Hire Vehicle operator and that Uber cars come with taximeters, which are only allowed in black cabs under London law.
In response, Daniels said: “In relation to the way Uber operates in London, TfL is satisfied that based upon our understanding of the relationship between the passenger and Uber London, and between Uber London and Uber BV, registered in Holland, that it is operating lawfully.”
Daniels added that because Uber’s taximeters are smartphones, they “have no operational or physical connection with the vehicles, and [so] … are not taximeters within the meaning of the legislation.”
A British court is due to make a final ruling on whether Uber’s technology is the same as a taximeter. Their decision will be delayed while six legal cases brought by a taxi union against individual Uber drivers are heard.