Support TFL: Uber must be forced to take safety seriously
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There is no question that the price and convenience of Uber is fantastic. It has made taxi rides affordable for ordinary Londoners for the first time in living memory. There is no doubting that this is good for consumer choice. It's hard to think of many normal people who would disagree with this statement.
But last month, the Metropolitan Police criticised Uber for failing to report a string of sex attacks by its drivers, including one whose perpetrator went on to assault a second female passenger and which "would have been prevented". The reason that Uber did not report these crimes quickly and promptly - as you would expect any half-decent organisation to? "It seems they are deciding what to report". The Met Police believe that their main concern is not public safety or the wellbeing of the people whose safety they violated, but the potential PR ramifications.
These concerns are not new. Allegations of a poor public safety record have plagued Uber for years (and their response of "we work closely with the police" certainly seems less convincing given the Met's above claims). It is not unreasonable to expect a company worth 70 billion dollars (repeat: 70 BILLION DOLLARS) to be capable of systems that quickly alert the police so that they can investigate all cases of assault reported by their passengers. If Uber wanted to make this happen, they could have done. The fact that they have not suggests that left to their own devices, they have no interest in doing so.
This is unacceptable. Stronger measures to protect passengers' safety was/is clearly needed. There can be no doubt that TfL's decision to remove Uber's licence is correct in this matter. It is also clear that something needed to be done to force this company to take action as left to their own devices they cannot be trusted to do the right thing. After all, this is a company so powerful that their drivers have had to spend nearly a year of court cases to obtain minimum wage.
TfL's use of the one power they have to force Uber to operate in a decent, human manner is a positive and welcome move. It is inevitable given Uber's humungous resources and the number of people on their mailing list, that a mass-signed petition in favour of Uber will occur. This should not be taken as necessarily being indicative of public mood.
We support TfL's removal of Uber's licence to operate in London on safety grounds. We hope that it provides the impetus for them to begin to figure out how to take public safety seriously - and to use it to clean up their business model in order to apply for future licences.
(Photo credit: Dianne Yee)
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