Monday, January 18, 2016

Uber Can't Operate Under New Regulation Safeguards In Belfast.


Global minicab operator Uber has said it would have to "re-evaluate its business" in Belfast if new laws on taxi regulation were to be introduced.

Apparently if Uber are forced to work within the framework of the new legislated regulations, their current business model would be unworkable!

The Assembly is considering introducing six new rules for owning and operating taxis (Public/Private) in Northern Ireland.

Among the changes, as a safeguard against passengers being overcharged, will be the introduction of taxi meters and printers in all vehicles, which would be inspected, tested and sealed by Department of the Environment (DoE) officials.

If passed, the measures will come into force in May.

Kieran Harte, general manager for Uber Belfast, said: "Since launching in Belfast just over a month ago, we have been overwhelmed by the reaction of both riders and professional drivers wanting to sign up.

"The new rules, if introduced, would be a huge step backwards and would force us to re-evaluate our business in the city.

"Forcing drivers to install unnecessary technology - like taxi meters and receipt printers - stop the sector creating new jobs and increase prices for consumers."

A spokesman for Belfast Public Taxis said, the fitting of meters and printers would put a complete end to the unfair system of Uber surges. Complaints of passenger having to pay up to 6 times the normal fare, were common over the New Years Eve period.


When asked if the changes would mean Uber, which has only operated in Belfast for a month, would pull out of the market here, Uber's spokesperson added: "We would like to stay, but we would have to make sure we could have a viable business with the new rules."

The new changes will also allow private hire vehicles to ply for trade off the street at certain times - something which they are currently prohibited from doing.

The mobile phone app, available on both Android and iPhones, works on a cashless system - with users signing up with a bank card - charged for each journey automatically on arrival at their destination.

Prospective passengers receive a picture of their supposed driver and car details before its arrival, although there have been many complaints on Twitter, that the driver turning up is not the one in the picture.

Drivers, are supposed to be fully licensed, but there have also been reports of drivers "lending their phones to friends and family. 

The biggest question mark is whether Ubers drivers have acquired the required hire and reward insurance.

Uber insist drivers are not employees but are instead partners, deciding when they want to work. As the operator, Uber take a massive 25% of all their partner's fares.

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