A report compiled by a collection of cross-party MPs and put to the government cited congestion and ever increasing levels of pollution in London as the reasons behind their suggestion.
London roads are notoriously bad, with gridlocks an everyday feature of rush hour. Since 2010, the number of private hire vehicles on London’s rose has doubled to 120,000 according to the report. Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Taxis, declared:
The explosion in the number of private hire vehicles on the streets of London is causing serious congestion and pumping out fumes contributing to the toxic air that is killing more than 9,000 Londoners each year.
He went on to say that there is a “loophole that allows [Uber] drivers to avoid TfL’s tougher licensing regime” which needs to be closed, as it is designed specifically to “keep Londoner’s safe”. This is not the first time this particular bone of contention has been raised, with licensed taxi drivers frequently complaining about the lack of restrictions imposed on Uber drivers.
Uber were quick to dispute this figure, however, alleging the number of private hire vehicles is actually nearer the 87,000 mark. Their spokesman also quoted a TfL figure that within the Congestion Zone black cabs are responsible for 18% of total Nitrogen Oxide emissions, and went on to say
“More than half the miles travelled with uberX in London are in hybrid or fully electric cars and our car-sharing option uberPOOL is saving mileage and emissions too… It’s a shame this report doesn’t address why black cabs are the only vehicles exempt from the Mayor’s new Ultra Low Emissions Zone”
With tensions between taxi drivers and Uber reaching boiling point, it will be interesting to see how this saga progresses.