London Cabbies Crowdfund to Fight Uber
Using one type of innovation to fight another, drivers of London’s black cabs have launched a crowdfunding campaign to fight against ridesharing giant Uber.
Artemis Mercer, the founder of the pro-taxi advocacy group SaveTaxi and company Action for Cabbies, created the campaign on Crowdfunder.co.uk, a U.K.-based crowdfunding platform. So far, the campaign has raised almost $58,000, about 6 percent of its $850,000 fundraising target. It runs through March 14.
The goal of the crowdfunding campaign, which is being officially run by Action for Cabbies, is to revoke Uber’s legal permission to operate in London by petitioning for a review of the 2012 license granted to Uber by the regional governing body, Transport for London (TfL).
SaveTaxi and Action for Cabbies argue that the TfL does not apply the same level of rigorous background checks to private hire drivers as it does to traditional black cab drivers. “These vehicles are not obligated to comply with the strict regulations that are laid down to protect customers; the very same regulations that Licensed London Taxi Drivers are forced to strictly adhere to,” the SaveTaxi website explains. “SaveTaxi want TfL to implement and enforce the strict regulations that they have established.”
The TfL says that it can not block any applications that meet its requirements. “Uber was issued a licence in 2012 because they met all of our licensing requirements. Uber remains licensed as a private hire operator in London,” says a TfL spokesperson.
Action for Cabbies has obtained legal representation. The lawyers at London-based Rosenblatt Solicitors have said that “there are sufficient grounds to apply to the Court for permission to bring an application for judicial review against Transport for London (TfL) on the basis that the granting of Uber's licence to operate was unlawful,” according to a statement on the crowdfunding campaign website. If, however, the Courts do not agree, then that’s the end of the legal fight for SaveTaxi.
Since Uber arrived in London, the city’s 25,000 cabbies have been forced to work longer hours to make the same amount of money, the crowdfunding campaign says.
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“It's been a rough couple of years and as a stay at home mummy to small children, I am not in any paid employment,” wrote Cher, on the crowdfunding campaign page. “I just wanted to say we appreciate all that our lovely Taxi Family do to help and we have been amazed by you all.”
To be sure, this campaign against the London branch of Uber is the latest battle in long-standing war. London is not the only city where the legacy taxi industry is being hit hard by the growth of the global technology juggernaut that is Uber. Last year, violent protests broke out in Paris as Uber drivers and the local taxi drivers clashed in the streets.
Uber did not immediately respond to Entrepreneur’s request for comment.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.