TfL gives Uber the green light in taxi app ruling

This week, Transport for London (TfL) has ruled that Uber, the taxi-hire app, can operate legally in London.

The ruling will come as a massive blow to taxi drivers, not just in London, but across the globe after widespread protests took place against the app in major European cities this year.

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The West Coast technology startup has faced a number of disputes over the legality of the app.

Under London taxi rules, only licensed black cabs are allowed to use meters to charge customers based on time and distance. While the city's taxi drivers felt the app contravened these regulations, TfL has ruled in favour of the US firm.

"Smartphones that transmit location information between vehicles and operators have no operational or physical connection with the vehicles," the regulator said in a statement. The phones are "not taximeters within the meaning of the legislation," it added.

Protests have taken place in several European cities, including Madrid, Milan and London as drivers argue that the service does not comply with local rules and does not pay enough taxes in these areas. Uber has also faced problems closer to home, according to reports from the Globe, with taxi drivers from the surrounding area staging a protest outside the firm's Boston offices in May.

While the latest ruling is certainly a boost for the company, TfL has said that it would be asking a British court to make a final decision on the issue.

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"Using a meter in a private vehicle is a criminal matter," said Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who added that the cases against the Uber drivers would probably be heard in the autumn.

In a statement released this week, the US company welcomed TfL's decision.

Jo Bertram, Uber's general manager for Britain and Ireland said, "Today is a victory for common sense. Uber on, London."