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New proposed rules could ruin Uber's London game

Transport for London will propose a new set of rules which are designed to address the cabs vs Uber struggle. The way rules are set, it seems as Uber is in for a bumpy ride.

Documents seen by the Telegraph reveal that London’s transport body is due to consult on new proposals for private hire companies that would ban some of Uber’s key features.

The proposals include a minimal five minute wait between ordering a ride and it actually getting there, as well as a ban for operators on showing cars for hire within a smartphone app – a key Uber feature.

TfL also proposes a limitation on ride-sharing, which is a direct hit against Uber’s UberPool service.

"These bureaucratic new rules will not improve your ride," said Jo Bertram, Uber's general manager for the UK, Ireland and Nordics. "They’re designed to address the concerns of black cab drivers, who feel under pressure from increased competition.”

"But the answer is to reduce the onerous regulations cabbies face today - not increase them for everyone else."

According to a report by The Telegraph, Transport for London is planning to launch a September consultation on the matter "in the interests of public safety and an effective and up to date regulatory system".

TfL is consulting on the following proposals that could affect Uber:

  • Operators "must provide booking confirmation details to the passenger at least five minutes prior to the journey commencing". Uber matches potential passengers with the nearest riders, meaning they are picked up in, on average, three minutes after requesting a car.
  • Companies "must not show vehicles being available for immediate hire either visibly or virtually via an app". One of Uber's key features is a map of available drivers in the area around the passenger.
  • Operators "must offer a facility to pre-book up to seven days in advance", an option that would create major headaches for Uber, since it does not allow passengers to pre-book rides.
  • Drivers may only work for one operator at a time. Uber says many of its drivers are part-time workers whose main employer is a traditional minicab firm.
  • There should be "controls on ridesharing in public vehicles". Uber's chief executive Travis Kalanick has said he wants to bring the UberPool service, which allows several customers to share a car, to London.