It's a small revolution for "black cabs". Some of London's famous black cabs will be able to be booked from the Uber platform from January, the US company announced on Wednesday. "The Uber app is opening up to the iconic" London taxi, the San Francisco-based company wrote in a statement. An Uber spokesperson said a "small number" of taxi drivers have already signed up for the platform, but the company hopes to recruit "several hundred" more by January. In London, traditional taxis are often hailed on the street, but can also be booked in advance.
Taxi drivers in Paris, New York, Rome and other major cities are already taking rides in partnership with the platform, Uber points out. Uber launched its services in London more than a decade ago and says it has since made more than a billion trips in the British capital. The platform has been the subject of strong opposition from the 19,000 traditional taxis. In order to operate, their drivers must memorize all the streets within a 10-kilometre radius of central London in a test called "The Knowledge".
Drivers accuse Uber of undermining prices, workers' rights and safety standards. Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), which represents Black taxi drivers, said there was "no demand" for the partnership with Uber. "We don't think our members will join the app, given its poor track record, well documented in everything from passenger safety to workers' rights in London," he said. For him, Uber is launching this partnership to "reinvigorate its struggling business model".