James and Charlotte have already written about why Transport for London's (TfL) proposed regulations of private hire taxis like Uber are a bad idea. I have not yet seen any defence that the regulations will improve standards for Londoners – they appear to be wholly designed to protect black cab drivers. And that seems to be exactly what's going on.
Back in August, Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, wrote in Taxi Magazine (p. 3 at that link) that "all of the proposed regulatory changes were proposed by the trade in our response", which were said to be:
- A five minute period between booking and pick up
- Operators must not show vehicles available for immediate hire – either visibly or virtually, via an app
- The fare must be specified at the time of booking
- Drivers to only work for one operator at a time
- No ride sharing
- Operators must offer a pre-booking facility – up to seven days
- Operators will have to record destinations at time of booking
- Operators to have a landline
- PH operators will be required to have Hire and Reward insurance policy for their fleet
- Satellite or temporary event licenses will be scrapped
These – published a month ago – are almost word-for-word what TfL is now proposing. And the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association has a seat on TfL's board. This is regulatory capture, pure and simple.
That the LTDA have been able to dictate TfL's policy so precisely seems like virtually 'smoking gun' evidence that TfL – with London Mayor Boris Johnson as its Chairman – is regulating against the public interest to protect black cab drivers from competition from Uber and similar firms.
Nobody thinks these regulations will help consumers. This isn't misguided regulation, it's a conspiracy against the public. We're being stitched up here.