London is due to see a couple of major announcements this week. While the country’s highest law court will decide whether Boris Johnson’s proroguing of parliament was lawful or not, probably tomorrow, Wednesday will definitely be the day Uber finds out its London destiny.
City A.M. sums up, I feel, what most people suspect will happen. Uber will go in looking for a five-year licence but will be happy to come out with another year, or 18 months.
To see what the people think, Global Web Index has a headline piece of research that has come out just before the decision. It claims that 51% of Brits support Uber in its bid to retain a licence. I’m not sure about you, but if 51% support Uber, 49% surely do not?
When there’s a poll of slightly more than 2000 people involved, I’d suggest that is far too close to call, and certainly not a basis to put the word “support” anywhere near the headline.
Delve deeper and we find 23% believe Uber is more responsible than two years ago, and 30% think it should be given a permanent licence. I know this could me being a Gen X bore but that means the vast majority of people do not agree Uber is more responsible and the same goes for a permanent licence?
Sure, on the one hand, Uber is a cheaper and more convenient way of hailing a cab from a mobile device. On the other hand, though, we have had accusations of questionable leadership at the top, a massive data leak and poor supervision and vetting of drivers.
The company claims these have now been addressed and that is why it is likely to carry on operating in London but almost certainly not on a permanent basis. Transport for London (TfL) will want to check in on it periodically to ensure standards are being met and rules adhered to.
When the same piece of research asked Brits what they think our cities need, in terms of transport, most opted for more trains, tube train, trams and buses. In fact, more trains and more buses were more than twice as popular as more Uber or taxi hailing options.
I think Global Web Index has obviously wanted to have a headline from its research in the run-up to Wednesday announcement but I’m not sure the one they’ve gone for, or perhaps has been attributed to it in coverage from titles as Netimperative, is the most accurate option.
The public haven’t said they support Uber as much as pointed out they are divided on the topic. They have also pointed out unequivocally that they support better public transport options from their cities over and above taxi hailing options.
Brits are not yet decided on Uber — particularly in London, where we enjoy the cheaper fares and the convenience of digital hailing, but still love the sight of black cabs on the street and the knowledge and professionalism of their drivers.
We trust black cab drivers to be well vetted and to get us there via the quickest route, plucked from their encyclopaedic brains, but we trust Uber to get us to our destination more cheaply. It’s not clear cut and the research, despite how it is being portrayed, clearly shows this split in public opinion.