Uber vs Taxi Knowledge

By General, Mopeds,

Black taxis and Hackney Carriages are known the world over, but Uber is the (relatively) new boy in town and seemingly a threat to the traditions of the London Black Cab. We have been selling scooters to people doing the London taxi knowledge for over 30 years and have noticed some worry amongst those embarking on their taxi knowledge.

To help our customers looking to do their taxi knowledge or for those already a year or two in we thought we’d try to dispel some of the myths and barriers Uber appears to pose. In our research there are some exaggerated statements and sniping in various quarters. But on the whole it’s an interesting mesh of views for and against.

Uber is in a destructive race to the bottom, and its drivers are so severely underpaid that in London the British taxpayer is subsidising them and, ultimately, Uber too. There is clearly a legal case to answer against Uber and it is a high stakes game. Source: cab4now.com: The Uber Time Bomb

Wages/earnings

Some research by GMB unearthed some startling statistics on Uber pay. Since this research Uber has improved it’s terms and the government has introduced the living wage.

A GMB member who works exclusively for Uber as a cab driver in London was paid £5.03 net per hour for 234 hours driving during August calendar month. This is £1.47 per hour below the national minimum wage of £6.50 per hour. For each hour he worked the fees he paid to Uber were £2.65 per hour which equated to 53% of his net pay per hour. Source: GMB: Uber Driver Not Paid Minimum Wage

Contractual obligations

In December 2015 Uber changed it’s drivers contractual terms regarding pay. This was a reaction to law suits by drivers over pay in America. Each driver agrees to the terms every time they sign-in to their app. It seems Uber drivers were given an ultimatum to sign the new contract if they want to continue to operate, which would be a tough call if this is your livelihood in ‘take it or leave it’ scenario. Are drivers self-employed or working for a large corporation who like to throw it’s weight around?

Uber Technologies Inc. is asking its U.S. drivers to sign a re-worded contract that restricts their right to sue in an escalation of a battle over whether they should be treated as employees. Source: Bloomberg: Uber restricts drivers

Bound to Sat-Nav

It’s safe to say that the training undertaken by folks on the taxi knowledge go through an awful lot to obtain their licence and this is undermined by those minicab drivers who use Sat-Nav to negotiate London. The thing we believe is that, while great when you are stuck in a jam in a minicab it very easy for the driver to follow the route planned out in front of them rather than using a honed skill to get themselves and their customer out of trouble and to their destination as fast as possible. Yes, moving with the times is one thing and we are all for technology helping you in your profession but do you need to know your patch inside out to be a true professional? The motorcycle industry for example has embraced many innovations over the years in order to keep up with modern trends and expectations but our mechanics are still trained to know the fundamentals outside the modern tech. So embrace technology, but perhaps it needs to be more of a blend with hard knowledge to give your passengers confidence.

Allocation system

Taxi ranks are all over ever major city in the UK. Cabs wait in a queue for customers to take the next available taxi. Uber uses it’s app to avoid passengers queuing and it is clever, as fares fluctuate depending on the availability of cars and peaks in requests. They do this so that the low fares encourage people to use their service, but which drivers get which requests? Uber drivers cannot just drive around and pick up passengers via hailing in the traditional sense, so they are at the mercy of the app and what the computer decides is right. Obviously, the black cab drivers know when peak times are and areas that are going to be profitable, but being able to hail passengers will greatly outweigh the taxi ranks and Uber algorithms in turn when it comes to earnings.

Conclusions

These are just areas we have heard people talking about. Time will tell on the impact of Uber on the wider private transportation landscape. Addison-Lee started up in the 1970’s and over the years integrated into the transport fabric of London alongside public transport and other private hire options. Although the future seems daunting for those doing their taxi knowledge, we feel the Uber ripples will to settle down in coming years and when they do black cab drivers will still be a vital part of London for years to come.