Still fighting Uber, London cabbies launch $850K crowdfunding campaign for legal battle

uber london cabbies launch 850k campaign to fund fight black cab
Jules Kitano/123RF
Similar to other action taking place in major cities around the world, drivers of London’s iconic black cabs have been protesting against the presence of Uber ever since the ride-hailing company rolled into town nearly four years ago.

Rather than point the finger at Uber directly, London’s drivers have consistently directed their anger at Transport for London (TfL) – the city’s transportation authority – insisting it imposes the same strict regulations on Uber drivers as it does on the taxi industry.

Having apparently made little progress, one taxi driver’s wife this week launched a £600,000 (about $850K) crowdfunding campaign to battle the San Francisco-based company in the courts.

The “Action for Cabbies” campaign is calling for a judicial review against TfL for failing to enforce the law when it awarded Uber its original operating license back in 2012.

In claims that echo those of other Uber-related protests around the world, campaign organizer Artemis Mercer insists TfL has failed to enforce the law in areas such as background checks, access for disabled riders, and insurance.

“Help save our iconic black cab trade and the future of 25,000 cabbies, their families and associated industries,” Mercer says in her pitch on the crowdfunding site, adding that cab drivers “have lost the ability to compete on a level playing field.”

She goes on to warn that if Uber becomes the dominant force in London, “the traveling public may be exposed to dramatic fare increases and compromised regulation surrounding safety.”

A law firm acting on behalf of the black-cab drivers said it believes there are sufficient grounds for the case against TfL “on the basis that the granting of Uber’s licence to operate was unlawful.”

Of course, to take the fight forward Mercer first needs her campaign to hit its target. It’s certainly off to a speedy start, in just a short time raising £30,000 with 56 days remaining.

Even if the case does make it to court, the black-cab drivers, together with Mercer and the campaign’s supporters, know they have a difficult fight on their hands, as Uber last October won a case in which the UK’s high court ruled the app legal in London.

Uber has always said it’s not a taxi service but a technology company with an app that connects drivers and riders, and therefore is not subject to the same regulations as those imposed on the taxi industry.

We’ve reached out to both Uber and TfL for comment on the Action for Cabbies campaign and will update if we hear back.

The fight against Uber by London’s traditional taxi industry – one in which its drivers must first pass the legendary “knowledge” exam that requires them to memorize the location of every single street in the capital, as well as landmarks and routes – has seen cabbies’ protests bring the city’s streets to a standstill on several occasions in recent years, most recently last summer.

[UPDATE:] TfL contacted Digital Trends and offered the following statement: “Uber were issued a licence in 2012 because they met all of our licensing requirements. Uber remain licensed as a private hire operator in London.” It also said it suspects Action for Cabbies’ application for a judicial review is out of time as such applications are normally made within three months of a decision. However, it added that it was prepared to demonstrate its licensing and decision-making process should the matter end up in court.


Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.
Smart Home

Amazon shows off compact cashier-free store that could show up at airports

Amazon is testing its smallest Amazon Go store to date as it considers taking the grab-and-go technology to new venues such as airports and train stations. The compact store is a quarter the size of its current locations.

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Smart Home

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

You know how Uber Pool offers cheaper trips if riders share a car? Well, Uber Eats is currently testing the same idea for meal delivery, and it could mean cheaper orders for customers.

Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find a Lime bike or scooter

Google Maps has added a new feature that helps you find a Lime bike or scooter in just a few taps. The feature currently works in 11 U.S. cities served by Lime, with more coming next year.

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.

Quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed

Looking for a few accoutrements to make your smartphone even better? If you, or someone you know, is a sucker for accessories, you'll want to check out our collection of quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Walmart drops prices on Apple Watches and other fitness trackers

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable heart rate monitors from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin are popular gifts. Wearables are smarter and more capable than in earlier years. We found the best wearables deals on Walmart.

The best Wear OS watches

There are a ton of different Wear OS watches out there, but which one's right for you? No matter what you're looking for from a smartwatch, here are the best Wear OS watches out there.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.

How to switch from iPhone to Android: The ultimate guide

If you've decided to bridge the great tech divide and leave Apple's walled garden for the unknown shores of Android, then you'll find all the tips and advice you need to begin switching from an iPhone to an Android device.