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Uber Ban

We Asked London Uber Drivers About the Company Losing Its Licence

"What? You’re joking!"
Photo by Tom Usher

Today, TfL announced that it will not renew Uber's licence in London, which expires next Saturday. The company is appealing the decision, and TfL has said it can continue with business as usual during the appeal, but that presumably isn't doing much to put the minds of London's 30,000 Uber drivers at rest.

Today, we fired up the app and hopped in some cars to ask Uber drivers what they think about the possible ban.



VICE: What do you think about Uber not operating in the London any more?
Sai: What? You're joking!

I'm afraid so – it was just announced that the London licence isn't going to be renewed.
Customers love Uber 'cause it's cheap. I worked as a parking attendant for about nine to ten years. But it's a company; companies shut down. I don't mind redundancy. I care about keeping a job. I'm shocked, you know. My life is very bad. I feel terrible. Uber is my life. I chose Uber.

Uber is planning to appeal the decision, though.
Thank you so much for telling me! I can at least look for something.

Why do you think TfL government acted now?
[Black cabs] – they don't have much of a job because they charge £25 to £30 for a short ride. The government loves black cabs because of tourism, and they produce money in that way for them. We can't do anything, I'm so sad.

Thanks Sai.



TfL has announced that Uber's London licence won't be renewed – what do you make of that?
Alex: At the end of the day, I know it sounds bad, but money talks, at the end of the day. Uber have a lot of money and power and, at the end of the day, they will find a way. They will finalise this deal. They will probably ask for an extension.

Uber says it will take legal action, and they have made an appeal.
I use lawyers, I know how it all works. I've actually been caught and stuff. With the High Court there's always ways. Uber hasn't done anything that bad or wrong.


[Black cabs] are in the dark ages. Technology is a way forward. Everything is work on the phone or computer. [Black cabs] haven't moved fast enough. It has affected them badly – they haven't earned as much as they should. Obviously, if I was a [black cab driver], I'd be upset as well. Imagine you're doing your job and you earn 20 percent less than usual. It's human nature. But I hope [Uber] do get a result. It's going to be interesting.

How do you think it's going to affect young people?
My mother, who is 60 years old, she uses Uber when she is not bothered to drive. I've picked up people of all ages. Everyone gets into the car. It's about convenience.

How bad of a rep do you guys get?
I don't know. On LBC this guy came on and he was like, "Uber drivers drive 70 hours a week and earn minimum wage." If I do 50 to 60 hours a week and get a little bit lucky and do a job on surges, I can make easily minimum £1,000 a month. Is that bad money?

What's your other job?
My partner and me have this company based in Liberia where we rent out machines to mining companies. It's not a nine to five, so I do this on the side. And if I need to fly out or anything I can drop this quick.

You seem to be doing alright for yourself.
If you see a Toyota Prius, nine times out of ten that's their only job. If you go into any other car, like this [a BMW 5 Series] it's most likely not their only job. This is my own car. I recommend it if you want to do something on the side.


Is banning the best solution?
No, it's about the experience. Black cabs can be racist. I would never generalise, but I can easily say most of them are. They won't pick you up. They'll look at who you are and won't pick you up. They won't stop if they don't like the look of you. As an Uber driver, we don't care who you are, where you are. I'll pick anyone up – I don't care. As long as you are not rude, offensive or too drunk, I'll pick you up.

"The small guy will pay. Uber doesn't care about us, the driver."


What do you think of the news?
Guiseppe: It's about the pressure the government was facing from black cabs.

You're cheaper – do you think you're being victimised for that?
Black cab is for London. We earn. I am an immigrant trying to earn a pay check. They are targeting Uber, a big company. But the small guy will pay. Uber doesn't care about us, the driver.

Do you have other plans, a back-up job?
No, this is my job.

Best of luck, Guiseppe.