Uber’s regulatory victory in London will have to wait, thanks to a lawsuit filed by taxi industry leaders.
In London, city regulations restrict the use of meters to licensed black cabs. According to Uber’s opposition, the startup’s smartphone app functions like a traditional taxi meter and should be regulated as such. City regulator Transport for London (TfL), however, has sided with Uber, determining that smartphones are “not taximeters within the meaning of the legislation,” NY Times reports.
That thumbs-up sent Uber supporters into celebration mode today, but the decision is not yet set in stone: TfL intends to leave the final ruling to a civil court. Unfortunately for Uber, a lawsuit filed by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) — a city taxi group — will delay that ruling considerably.
In a statement provided to VentureBeat, Uber’s UK & Ireland general manager Jo Bertram said, “It’s sadly unsurprising that the LTDA has chosen to issue summons against a small number of partner-drivers on the Uber platform that has now stopped the High Court process in its tracks, prolonging the process for months to come.”
The LTDA’s lawsuit individually targets six Uber drivers, according to Bloomberg. As a result, Bertram says Uber will “stand right behind” the six drivers “and will give all the support they need.”
Bertram’s words casts a shadow on an earlier Uber statement [below], which celebrated the TfL’s favorable stance.
Today is a victory for common sense, technology, innovation – and above all, London. Following another round of scrutiny, Uber has yet again been confirmed by TfL as a fully compliant operator.
Still, Bertram claims a win for Uber is around the corner: “We’re confident that common sense will prevail eventually, but it is short sighted that the whole process has now been extended considerably which isn’t helpful to anyone, not least the partner-drivers involved.”