And yes, the tide of troubles has reached London for Uber. The cab hailing company has found itself forced to resort to legal action, after a strange new rule by the city’s regulatory authorities seeks to force its drivers to pass compulsory English tests checking their proficiency in the language.
Uber and trouble are no strangers. The company has been getting into quite a whole lot of the latter following its aggressive expansion tactics that have seen it become a huge, global entity. Well, something similar is transpiring in London, where after months of protests from the local Black cabs, public regulatory body Transport for London(TfL) is coming up with novel ideas that it believes should be implemented by private cab aggregators.
And novel is actually being too kind. The body was actually considering imposing a five-minute wait time for rides on Uber customers but fortunately, saner heads prevailed. However, the TfL is going ahead with some of its other plans that include compulsory language tests meant to test the proficiency of the drivers in the written and spoken English language. Wow!
Speaking on the topic, Uber London General Manager Tom Elvidge said,
We’re particularly disappointed that, after a lengthy consultation process with Transport for London. The goalposts have moved at the last minute and new rules are now being introduced that will be bad for both drivers and tech companies like Uber.
Uber also remarked that while it theoretically supported English proficiency for its drivers, the tests that were being proposed were just too rigorous. I mean c’mon, you are not going to require the driver’s advice on your thesis. It’s much more important that his driving is up to the mark. The company has over 30,000 drivers on London roads and while its fair to expect most of them to have a certain level of proficiency in English, asking each and everyone to pass a test — and indeed, make it a requirement — may just be going too far.
And these tests are not really all that is going to happen, if TfL has its way. Apparently, private hire firms must operate a call center with its physical location in London and drivers working for them must have insurance for their vehicles — even when the said vehicles are not being used as private hire cars.
Uber is also against the clause that requires it to open a call center in London and the issue may soon see it face the TfL in court, since the latter appears to be pretty adamant on its stand as well.
These have been introduced to enhance public safety when using private hire services and we are determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market with space for all providers to flourish.