When driver and rider matching service Uber arrived in London, there was so much talk of “disruptive technology”, as well as rather too much grovelling before the company’s deeply unpleasant CEO Travis Kalanick, and a ridiculous amount of attention given to the suggestion that it would mean lower private hire fares forever. Meanwhile, no-one gave any thought to the economics, despite the colossal losses Uber was racking up.
“Transport for London (TfL) had in November rejected Uber's application to continue trading, pointing to ‘breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk’ … The firm was allowed to continue operating while it appealed against the decision”. Uber’s failings have been covered by Zelo Street many times (see HERE for example).
But now, assurances have been given, and the Uber genie has once more been released from its bottle, to the renewed joy of all those out there on the right who for some reason despise the Black Cab trade for reasons that they never manage to pony up consistently. That trade has taken a hammering in the meantime. But so has Uber.
The Verge told readers in May “Uber lost $2.9 billion in the first quarter of 2020, its biggest loss in three quarters. The company also reported $3.54 billion in revenue”. Any worse and losses are going to be close to equalling revenue. The reality is that the Uber model hasn’t worked, isn’t working, and is highly unlikely to work any time soon.
As the biddable politicians stroll off into well-paid sinecures and Uber’s right-wing cheerleaders sneer as they hail the news in London yesterday, the Black Cab trade - the people who really know the capital - have been badly let down. They, like all the little people, won’t get any recompense, far less an explanation or apology.
Disruptive technology means a few get rich - while the majority get screwed over.