London has decided Uber is too risky to its patrons and has banned them from operating in the city. The decision surprised Uber and its fans and brought cheers of triumph to its rivals. However, some are crying foul, saying the ban is more of a political move to restrict free enterprise than any real concern for citizen’s safety.
Uber Drivers Are Not Safe
Claiming Uber was not “fit and proper,” the Transport for London (TFL) gave officials the fuel they needed to ban the enterprising taxi company. TFL oversees the city’s means of transportation including taxicabs, subways, and buses. Its opinions and findings hold substantial sway over decisions made in the city’s transportation system.
“Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” TFL said in a statement.
Some of the problems TFL raised include lax or not thorough enough background checks on the drivers, not reporting criminal offenses, and the use of a Greyball, a software program that “could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.”
According to the latest reports, sex attack allegations against Uber may now be at nearly one report per week. In 2015, London taxi drivers were charged with 126 counts of violent or sexual offenses.
Uber’s general manager in London, Tom Elvidge, said: “Uber conducted background checks using the methods used for black-cab drivers.” Black-cab is London’s largest taxi service, and many are white, native Brits. Uber, on the other hand, employs many immigrants which some say is the real reason behind banning the transportation enterprise from the city.
Uber Ban Goes After Discrimination and Free Enterprise
Uber drivers in London complained of insults hurled at them by black-cab drivers including “Go back to your country!” and “Uber slave!”
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, was warned that he might be in breach of equality legislation because of the decision to ban Uber in the city. Over the weekend, Khan was informed “that because more than 90 per cent of the 40,000 drivers are from ethnic minority backgrounds, the move has destroyed a “lifeline” for them.”
“There is a huge disparity in socioeconomic conditions of BME [black minority ethnic] citizens and their white British counterparts,” said Iqbal Wahhab, former chairman of the Department of Work and Pensions Ethnic Minority Advisory Group, “And for many of them, Uber was a way to earn a living, however modest, and come off benefits.”
Uber and companies like it, cost much less than a traditional taxi – up to 30%. This brings concerns to lobbyist and officials that city regulated companies such as black-cab could go out of business. Free enterprise is a threat to a way of life and the shareholders’ pocketbook.
Free enterprise is “an economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of state control.” While it’s true there need to be provisions set forth for the safety of a company’s employees and customers; free enterprise is not supposed to be heavily regulated by a state or government. Uber is reported to appeal the ban later this month and will be allowed to continue operations until a decision is made. In the meantime, we should all look a little deeper into London’s charges against the private taxi company.
Our greatest concern should be determining if this is actually a move against free enterprise. If it is, how long before other cities and states take up the action and we find ourselves without any competition, forced to accept whatever the government offers us?