An Uber driver has called on the company to stop its "dangerous" UberPool car sharing service after he was forced to call police when a woman was attacked in his cab.
James Farrar, the co-founder of driver organisation United Private Hire Drivers, said the problem arose when he picked up two passengers in Cranley Gardens, Kensington, on Saturday evening, who were unaware they had ordered an UberPool service.
Mr Farrar said the two young men then set upon the female passenger who was already in the car.
He said: "When I got there these two guys were aggressive, they'd not realised they were in a shared service, the user interface is confusing.
"I took a decision for my safety and the safety of the other passenger that I would not carry them.
"There was an argument, they kicked her in the back and dragged her up against the wall.
"I tried my best to defend her and they set upon me as well.
"The police came, but the main attacker had left the scene. The other guy attempted to leave the scene in a Taxi but I stopped him."
Another motorist witnessed the incident, which happened at about 9pm, and said he saw the passenger turn on Mr Farrar.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said "I was driving in my car from Gloucester Road towards Fulham Road and when I got to the bend I saw a guy standing in front of a car with his arms up.
"I saw a commotion going on in the road. It was a black guy, a young boy, I couldn't tell if he was punching him, he was wrestling him from behind and threw him on the bonnet.
"I asked what's happened, and he said 'he's just assaulted a girl in my car'.
"I pulled my car up and approached the guy. I asked what was going on and the guy said 'nothing, nothing' and stormed away, but the police caught up with him."
Mr Farrar is now calling on the company to stop the service, and for TfL to impose a ban.
"It absolutely should be stopped," he said. "In fact it should never have started.
TfL were this would be is a dangerous service, it's dangerous to drivers and it's dangerous to the public, especially late at night."
Mr Farrar has also criticised the company for asking its drivers to sign a letter to Val Shawcross, London's Deputy Mayor for Transport, asking her to review taxi regulations and to support Uber's ride sharing service UberPool.
In the letter drafted by Uber, the company claims that UberPool has saved 124 metric tonnes of CO2 due a million passengers choosing to share a mini cab in the past six months.
However, the figures are misleading as UberPool is drawing passengers away from public transport (buses and trains).
Mr Farrar said: "Uber must stop using the name of drivers to peddle corporate white and green wash. Uber doesn't bother to give a full accounting of its carbon emissions to independent bodies like the Carbon Disclosure Project and is now blatantly spinning the data to create a misleading picture.
"However, if Uber wants to work with drivers to secure worker rights, a cap on TfL licensing of private hire vehicles and to end UberPool and similar ride sharing services, then our door is wide open."
An Uber spokesperson said: “Londoners have chosen to share their journeys by choosing UberPool more than a million times, so we were extremely concerned to hear about this incident. We have been in contact with both the driver and passengers concerned and will assist the police with any investigation.
“We make very clear to passengers at the time of booking UberPool that they are opting to share their journey. It has proved to be a popular new choice for people in London as it allows them to save money, while also helping to cut emissions and congestion compared to taking the trip alone.
"Drivers can also make more money by having two fare-paying passengers in the car at the same time.
“Last week Uber gave its partners the option to sign a letter to the new Deputy Mayor for Transport to ensure the voices of private hire drivers in London are heard.
"This was completely optional and almost 9,000 drivers chose to sign that letter which pointed out the vital role they play in keeping London moving - especially at times of day, and in parts of London, where public transport is limited or unavailable.”
So there you have it only 25% of Uber's drivers volunteered to have their name, automatically added to the letter to Val Shawcross, 75% of Uber drivers don't agree with their EMPLOYERS.
Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s chief operating officer for surface transport, said: “I am extremely concerned to hear of this incident and have launched an urgent investigation.
To be honest, Garrett you shouldn't be that surprise as TfL were against MaxxiCab from the word go. Their argument was it wouldn't be safe, and yet they went on to allow Uber Pool.
Strange that one Leon! Almost as strange as the mythical on-off insurance.
Emmerson went on to say "we will be speaking to the police and to Uber about this particular case and we will confirm that Uber are ensuring passengers are made adequately aware that they are ride sharing with strangers when they book UberPool.”
What, no statement from Leon Daniels?
This is serious stuff and the buck sits with Leon as TfL's managing Director of surface transport.
Does he still work for TfL?
Seems to have been a bit quiet lately!