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We Asked Uber Drivers If They're Worried About the 24-Hour Tube

Could the round-the-clock tube be as big of a threat to Uber drivers as they were to cabbies?

(Photo by Mark Warner via)

If everything goes to plan, London's weekend night tube will start running this August, according to sources who snitched to the Press Association. That said, considering all the drama so far – the strikes and the delays – it's kind of unlikely everything will go to plan.

Either way, a lot of attention has been given to those striking workers, hasn't it? What about everyone else it's going to affect? Has anyone bothered listening to them? Uber drivers, for instance. What about them? people rejoiced when they came along because it meant a painless and (relatively) cheap trip home rather than four night buses, but will the night tube be the Uber to their black cab drivers? Will it snatch away all of that valuable weekend business?


We wanted to know if Uber drivers are furious about the 24-hour tube and the prospect of it running their business to the ground, so we asked a few of them about it. Here's what they said:

An Uber driver in Colombia (Photo by Alexander Torrenegra via)

VICE: Do you think the tube running 24 hours a day will affect business for you
Oladeji: It might not. When you think about the number of people who go out on weekends to enjoy themselves, you find that a lot of people would prefer to use taxis to get home, rather than going on the tube, because it drops them on their doorstep. More people might go out and use the tube, but those who are conscious of their safety will always choose a cab.

You don't think the night tube will be safe?
They'll make sure they have security, like cameras. But the people who harass people – who make the tube unsafe – are the drunk people.

Have you had many problems with drunk people in your cab?
Some drunk people throw up, and some people will come in and say, "Why are you talking to me like that?" That's always the case.

Black cab drivers were quite upset when Uber came along. Do you think any Uber drivers will protest against the 24-hour tube as their competition?
We're now side-by-side without any trouble, and everybody's happy. Black cabs are happy, I'm happy. Sometimes they don't stop for me, sometimes they stop and wait. Before, they didn't stop for anybody, you see. We have courtesy for each other now. It is an opportunity to share the market without trouble


Do you work night shifts?
Not any more. I've been doing this for the past 18 years.

So you prefer day shifts now?
I like to see who I'm going to carry, in daylight, so I know you can't harm me and can't mess with my car.

People have tried to harm you?
In London, when people want to get home, they start banging on my door. Some of them swear at me when I don't open up, but these people [in the street] aren't registered [with Uber]. We don't know their phone number or their address. I'm risking my own life – I don't want to do that.

Can't drunk people sometimes be fun, rather than a chore?
There are some drunk people who are lovely to be with. They chat to you, they talk, they make you happy. They joke and they ask you questions and they're not over their "limit". But those who are above their limit – they don't talk to anybody, they're always in a mood.

How are people that drunk going to manage to take the tube?
You'll see people sleeping in the tube! You see it sometimes – people sleeping in the tube, at the end of the journey, they don't know where they are! It happens every time.

Thanks, Oladeji.

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Do you think your night trade is going to be affected by the 24-hour tube?
Alex: Yeah. There's too much traffic these days – a journey that used to take ten minutes can now take half an hour.

Do you think different types of people use the tube and cabs?
I don't know. I think [the 24-hour tube] is good for London transport in general – the rates per hour will go down. And I think it's good, because if you're working the night shift it can be expensive getting a cab home.


From your experience of working nights, around pissed people, do you think the tube at night will be dangerous at all?
I don't know… London is a big city. I come from Bucharest, where that's a problem – you need a lot of night police.

TFL say that more than 100 police will patrol the open stations. Do you think that's enough?
No. I work Friday and Saturday nights, and I see these people – some dangerous people. It's a big city, and at any moment you are open to something dangerous.

Considering the 24-hour tube might steal away some business from you, can you empathise with how black cab drivers felt when Uber started up in London?
The people who want to use a taxi will use a taxi. It's the same in the night and in the day; some people want to use a bus or a tube. It's your choice.

So, overall, how much do you think it'll affect your business?
I think maybe 10 percent for me, but that's OK.

Thanks, Alex.

Are you worried about the 24-hour tube stealing some of your passengers?
Max: Well, the Friday and Saturday night shifts are the most important shifts for us. It will affect us a lot.

You personally?
Yeah, I work night shifts. Friday and Saturday is when most people go out. It will affect us, but how much? We will have to wait and see.

There are going to be a lot of drunk people taking the tube – do you think that will be a problem?
Most people who come to me are very polite. There aren't that many bad people, but when it opens, all those [drunk] people are going to use the tube.


What about the concern that there are going to be lots of unlicensed minicabs waiting to pick people up at the end of the tube lines?
Well, they can still use the Uber. I think they will use us. Uber is much cheaper than a cab.

So, in summary, do you think this is a good or a bad thing?
I think it's a good thing; I can use it as well!

Thanks, Max.

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