A number of people think Uber was banned to give Black Cab drivers their jobs back. Some views raise the question: is it the effect of Brexit and growing racism?
“It’s a difficult question, what to do”, says my Uber driver with a great level of concern, when I asked him about his future plans.
It took all of us by great surprise when, on September 22, Transport For London (TFL) announced that they were no longer planning to extend Uber’s license after it was deemed to be “unfit” to operate in London. Over 3.5 million Londoners rely on the transportation app for the quick, hassle-free and affordable ride. And, for thousands of others, it is a main source of income.
Uber is currently in the appeal process and has urged Londoners to sign a petition called Save Your Uber in London. The city is divided. Some people are furious as more and more serious allegations against Uber drivers are coming into light. Uber has been accused of irresponsibly addressing criminal offences, mishandling background checks and alleged sexual assault complaints. But the company claims “safety is key – our technology uses GPS to track and share a record of your exact trip with you”.
The result of Brexit?
Nauman Naeem, a part-time driver who has been working for Uber for over a year and a half, thinks that this ban will do no favour to a busy city like London. “I think it’s just a political game,” he says. “I think it’s a stupid decision that the government is making. You can’t ban Uber in London. It’s a big city, people need Uber in London.” During the interview, he expressed his concerns about his future, as well as his fellow drivers. We can only wonder if this ban is the result Brexit, or some other, much deeper issue. The British people voted to leave the EU, because they felt it was time to say “enough”. Enough of British traditions and values being neglected, enough of British people being undermined by other cultures.
As we were talking, Nauman mentioned that he has not heard of any serious incidents, that might have led the TFL to ban Uber, but points out that “there are good and bad people everywhere”. He confirms that the process to get the Uber driver’s license was the same as for any other private hire services.
Uber is a multicultural company that has employees from all over the world. A number of Uber drivers are foreigners. However, the demographic statistics show it all in an interesting perspective. According to the TFL, the majority of London Taxi (Black Cab) drivers are white British, middle aged and male.
Demographic statistics for Private Hire drivers (PHV), that include companies like Uber, is indeed significantly different. Only 7000 indicate themselves as White British, whereas the rest of the majority, indicated as British from a different origin or White Other, suggesting they might be immigrants from other European countries. The age gap shows that Uber has more young drivers than old ones and that there is a significant gender gap between males and females.
Often number speak for themselves. That said, it raises a question whether the license ban is another outcome of Brexit? Or is this just one of the ways TFL and the Black Cabs are attempting to take back their country and traditions?
No shock that Black Cabs are not big fans of Uber. Numerous cases of racial discrimination towards Uber drivers worldwide emerged in the past. The most recent being a series of tweets by Laura Loomer, an investigative journalist and far-right activist who sparked outrage after making openly racist comments on Twitter. How can we expect transparency from fellow journalists? Laura Loomer has now been banned from ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft but showed no sympathy since.
Recently, The London Taxi Company attempted to trademark the shape of London’s traditional Black Cabs. However, this has been denied by the Appeal Court, and ruled as “not distinctive enough to be trademarked”. This shows the respect they have for the traditional cars and their image. However, holding onto traditions creates difficulties such as the inability to track your journey, contact your driver or get a refund.
There is a great chance that, even if Uber won’t win this fight, there will be a new innovative company that will try to offer their services to the people of London. There is a gap in the market that still needs to be filled.
Words: Ieva Sulavaite Subbing: Lotta Behrens