If you were ever in any doubt that corruption was behind the licensing of certain large Private Hire organisations, have a look at this extract below from TfL's own website.
These two paragraphs are part of the requirements that have to be met by prospective private hire operators, before they can be considered for an operator's licence.
In the paragraphs shown, it states that the applicant must have a fixed land line for the taking of bookings.
It also states that a licence can not be issued without this requirement being met.
There has been no publication of any fixed land line number, given to prospective customers by Uber, attached to any if the operating centres they have used, since they were first licensed in 2012 by TfL under the former directorship of John Mason.
Uber publicly state they are not a Private Hire operator and profess in their terms and conditions that they are not responsible for any complaint that a customer may have in regards to any journey undertaken. They firmly state that this is solely a matter between the passenger and the driver. As customers are sent driver details they should take up any complaint with the driver.
So if Uber are not an operator then who is?
Should each individual driver, accepting a direct booking from a customer hold an operators licence?
Apparently Uber drivers are acting as an operator, being in direct contact when taking a straight away booking. This is also not allowed under the Private hire act of 1998, which states all bookings must be pre booked through a third party. This is not the case with Uber customers.
The fact that they may are may not be using a device as a TaxiMeter is irrelevant. The whole concept of their modus operandi is unlawful and should never have been licensed by TfL....but they were
Uber have also been found twice to be working from an operating centre which was at the time unlicensed by TfL. When complaints were made, TfL gave Uber time to apply for and receive new licences. Any other company would have had their licence revoked.
In the same way that RD2 should never have received 18 licence variations (satellite office licences) the day they first registered as an operator...but they were. When Taxi Leaks complained about this issue in 2013, we were at first lied to on three occasions by both the director of LTPH and his deputy. After we provided evidence that TfLs excuses were in fact lies, Taxi Leaks blog came under attack from TfL's legal department in a bid to silence and take the blog down. This they failed to do.
There could be many more cases similar to these two were impropriety has been the order if the day!
Who is ultimately responsible for the licensing of these two companies.
Surely this needs a full GLA if not Parliamentary investigation.
We can no longer trust the honour and integrity of our licensing authority, to act within the law.
So, what's the explanation for these breaches in licensing protocol?
Has corruption reached the highest level of management within TfL?
In a recent radio interview, the former director of LTPH John Mason, claimed he was only acting under orders and also claimed he was subjected to political interference from above.
The most worrying aspect of these licensing issues is that although we made contact with United Trade Group members and the issues were heavily promoted on a Taxi Leaks over many months, not one trade org took up the gauntlet on the trades behalf.
If Uber are allowed to proceed in the way they currently operate, with their approach to conventional taxi licensing, then we may as well all pack up and go home.
Would we be allowed to start up an unregulated passenger jet service and ignore FAA regulations, in the way Uber does with taxis?
Uber owes most of its success to the fact that many people hate or are jealous of licensed taxis. But like the police, you only hate them when you don’t need them. Nothing more welcoming than the glow from the orange TAXI light when it's raining or your lost and in trouble.
The list of grievances against Uber at present range from multiple instances of sexual assaults by drivers against passengers, to outright fraud.
But in our opinion, any company who’s biggest expense is legal fees against lawsuits isn't going to last the distance.
Any investor putting down hard earned cash to invest in Uber in 2015, strengthens the old adage, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”