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Uber registrations jump 850 percent in London, as cabbie protests cripple traffic

Photo via Flickr/James Barrett

Photo via Flickr/James Barrett

The demonstrations staged by London cab drivers against ride-sharing app Uber appear to have backfired. The company announced that sign-ups for its ride-sharing service increased by 850 percent, as taxi driver protests caused a massive traffic jam in the city’s center. 

“ …Today we’re seeing an 850 percent increase in sign-ups compared to last Wednesday (June 4). The results are clear: London wants Uber in a big way,” Jo Bertram, Uber’s UK and Ireland general manager told the Independent

Yesterday, taxi drivers caused gridlock around the tourist attraction Trafalgar Square. The protesters were calling on Transport for London (TfL), the agency tasked with managing the city’s public transport network, to regulate Uber’s hiring of drivers. The demonstrators also complained over the use of the Uber app as a meter for determining the cost of rides. In London, only black cabs (the boxy cars that are the English equivalent of New York taxi cabs) are legally allowed to use meters. 

To appease protesters, Uber has offered black cab drivers inclusion in their service. According to Wired UK, the company launched UberTAXI, which bundles black cab drivers into the service’s network of minicab and freelance chauffeurs. Previously, vehicles with TfL certification, such as black cabs, were excluded from the company’s booking directory.

“We recognize the unique heritage and value of traditional black cabs when it comes to getting around,” Bertram said. “UberTAXI is another way of using technology to offer more choice, making life simpler and keeping London moving.”  

The protest in London happened in conjunction with demonstrations in other major European cities. Similar protests were organized in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Milan, and Lisbon.

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