Instant Improver

Could this spell the end for Uber?

On Tuesday 26 May from around 2pm it's going to be very easy to find a taxi in London's Victoria area.

It'll also be practically impossible to get anywhere.

That's because the black cabs of England's capital are set to descend upon SW14 in a show of protest outside Transport for London's offices, thanks to their poor handling of minicabs, minicab licences and the rise (and rise) of Uber. And they're being heard, with London's mayor Boris Johnson looking to stem the flood of hire cars clogging the city's streets.

Johnson, recently elected as the Conservative MP for Uxbridge while serving as mayor, will be backing laws to place a cap on the number of minicab licences offered in London - a power that TFL currently doesn't have - with the mayor pushing for the laws to be included in next week's Queen's Speech.

The new measures backed by Johnson aren't specifically looking to single out Uber as the villain of the piece - but there might be fewer Uber-using minicabs to cart you home in the ungodly hours of a Sunday morning covered in kebab cuttings should the laws come in. There are 78,690 minicab drivers in London, a number which has risen by 12,268 in the last year alone thanks in part to the success of Uber. In addition to ruffling the feathers of London's black cab workers, the growth has also contributed to the city's pollution, congestion and seen a rise in unlicensed touting.

The move follows a report carried out by the London Assembly in December 2014 which recommended that steps be taken to put together "a long term strategy for the development of the taxi and private hire industries, strengthening enforcement and clamping down on touting". 

However, Uber is sure to push back against the laws - using stats shared with the BBC that indicate that the average speed of its drivers has increased by nine percent since they began operating in 2012, suggesting they aren't the cause for increased congestion. The company has also recently hired Rachel Whetstone as its new PR exec, formerly senior vice president of communications and public policy for the similarly-disruptive Google. Whetstone already has strong links with the Conservative party, having worked for Michael Howard and in being married to Steve Hilton - the former director of strategy for David Cameron. 

In short - while the breaks won't be put on Uber any time soon, the end of the company's London growth could be in sight.

(Images: Rex)

[Via: BBC]