Tag: Transportation

Uber Strike: Is It Ever OK To Take An Uber? 4 Questions To Ask Before Ordering One

Few companies are as divisive as Uber. The taxi and ride-sharing app has batted away scandal after scandal since it was founded in in 2009 – from a huge data breach and accusations of drivers committing sexual offences, to criticism over how it has disrupted the traditional taxi industry.

One issue that refuses to go away centres on how Uber contracts and pays the drivers who work for the company, and who have made its meteoric rise possible. Today, at 1pm, some drivers will stage a 24-hour strike.

They are protesting what they claim is unfair pay and conditions. But for all that is bubbling to the surface, the fact remains: consumers like Uber. It’s quick, it’s efficient and it’s cheap.

Here are some things you might want to consider before you tap the app. 

Is my driver being paid a fair wage for my ride?

With this one, it depends who you ask. Ask Uber, and they’ll say their workers are paid an average of £11 an hour, after accounting for all of their costs and Uber’s service fee.

If you ask The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) union, which is organising Tuesday’s strike, then the answer is a resounding “no”.

The IWGB want to see an increase in fares to £2 per mile (currently £1.25 in London) and a 10 per cent reduction in commissions paid by drivers to Uber (currently 25 percent for UberX). It says Uber’s calculations of earnings fail to take into account time spent waiting without a passenger. 

Central to this dispute is the fact that Uber has been locked in a battle for years in the UK about how it classifies its drivers under UK employment law.

It’s a bit complicated – but essentially, Uber classifies its drivers as self-employed, which means they have no entitlement to the minimum wage, holiday pay or basic protections from the company. 

Unions, meanwhile, have long argued that because drivers work solely for Uber they are in fact “workers” – a different categorisation of driver under the law, which would mean they are entitled to those rights.

A tribunal last year agreed but Uber is appealing that decision at a hearing later this month, which the IWGB claims is essentially a move to delay drivers getting access to rights that they claim under law they are entitled to. 

Am I safe in my Uber? 

In 2017, Transport for London (TFL) revoked Uber’s license to operate in the capital (Uber won an appeal for a temporary license which is why it’s still operating). It said Uber was “not fit and proper” to operate and cited concerns over “a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”

There have been concerns over passenger safety globally and in the UK. British Police charged 25 minicab drivers for sexual offences in 2016, according to TFL figures, and more than half of them – 13 – worked for Uber.

But when TFL revoked the licence, Uber found an unlikely ally in women, who said they felt far safer in an Uber than in a minicab or London black cab because a passenger can share their location with a friend, making the journey more trackable.

There have also been concerns over the number of hours Uber drivers can work in a row. In a bid to combat this issue, Uber implemented a cap for drivers in January – meaning a driver must take a six-hour break after he or she racks up 10 hours driving.

Am I contributing to the demise of traditional taxis?

Unfortunately yes, you probably are. Ever since Uber launched in the UK in London in 2012, traditional taxi drivers have complained of being undercut by the company – which offers lower fares.

They say their livelihoods have been damaged by Uber. Drivers of London black cabs – known as Hackney carriages, have been particularly vocal. Whereas black cab drivers have to pass tough exams known as “the knowledge” to show they can memorise every route in London, Uber drivers use sat nav. Black cab drivers claim that Uber drivers are unprofessional and have lowered standards in the industry.

Does my ride have any impact on the environment?

If you live in London, it’s sometimes cheaper to jump in an Uber than hop on an underground train. The capital city has pollution levels so bad they exceed the legal limits set by the EU Air Quality Standards.

Cars are an obvious contributor to this situation (though, if you’re a regular Uber customer you’ll know a large volume of drivers use a Toyota Prius, which is a hybrid electric car and therefore has less environmental impact than your regular petrol or diesel-chugging vehicle). 

If you’re close enough to use a more efficient method of travel but just use Uber because it’s quick and easy, getting a bus, walking, or cycling might be better for the environment and maybe even your wallet in the long run.

Theresa May Promises £106m Investment In Green Vehicles Including Electric Cars

Theresa May has announced a £106m in funding for the research and development of green vehicles including electric cars.

The announcement was made at the first Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Summit held in Birmingham. The prime minister went on to say that the UK should start “leading from the front and working with industries and countries around the world to spearhead change.”

In addition to £106m provided by the government, there will be a further £500m of investment made by industry leaders including the creation of around 1,000 jobs.

“Our electric UK-manufactured cars account for one-in-five sold in Europe,” said the prime minister.

In addition to these financial incentives the prime minister has also unveiled a new international declaration which will create a shared set of targets and objectives on how countries can adopt green vehicles in the future.

There are already 11 countries signed up including Italy, France, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Belarus and Indonesia with more expected to sign up in the coming months.

Despite this investment a recent survey by GoCompare found that for every 10 electric cars in the UK there was just one public charging point.

To combat this already considerable shortfall of public chargers, the government has already announced a £400m investment in the rolling out of a much larger charging network in combination with partners.

There are currently around 133,000 electric cars on the roads in the UK, and yet there are just 13,534 chargers dotted around the UK.

While you certainly wouldn’t expect there to be a like for like figure this does become problematic for electric cars in particular. For starters they take longer to charge and so are required for longer periods of time by one vehicle.

To try and increase the uptake of electric vehicles in the UK the Department of Transport has also said it’s looking into the creation of a green number plate specially for electric or low-emission vehicles.

The green number plates would be used to raise awareness of green vehicles in an effort to encourage customers to choose electric next time they buy a new car.

Of course cost has always traditionally been a barrier with many electric cars costing well above the average for their size and class. Cars like the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe have done much to bring the cost down with both cars costing below £30,000 and £20,000 respectively.

Special ‘Green Plates’ Plan For Ultra Low-Emission Vehicles

Drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles could be given new green number plates as a “badge of honour” which could give them special privileges.

Plans under consideration by ministers would see cars, vans and taxis which conform to high environmental standards given the special registration plates, along the line of schemes in Norway, Canada and China.

Green number plates could help support local incentives for electric cars by allowing access to special bus or low emission vehicle lanes, charging bays or ultra-low-emission zones.

Plans for a forthcoming consultation were announced on Sunday and could pave the way for the plates to be installed on UK vehicles in the next few years.

It will consider potential designs for the eye-catching plates, which could include being entirely green on the front, back or both sides of the vehicle, or a green symbol.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The UK has a proud history of leading the world in technological advances and that is no different for ultra-low emission vehicles, where we are at the forefront of innovation and testing.

“This new cleaner, greener transport has the potential to bring with it cleaner air, a better environment and stronger economies for countries around the world.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the special plates could be a ‘badge of honour’ for green motorists 

“Adding a green badge of honour to these new clean vehicles is a brilliant way of helping increase awareness of their growing popularity in the UK and might just encourage people to think about how one could fit into their own travel routine.”

The announcement comes as the UK prepares to host the world’s first zero emission vehicle summit.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Far from standing out from the crowd, increasingly the new electric cars coming to market are indistinguishable from their everyday petrol or diesel-powered equivalents; a green number plate could become a badge of honour for motorists and businesses wanting to signal their environmental credentials.

“Potential EV owners might welcome this as a subtle way of showing that they are joining a small but fast-growing club – there are now at least 168,000 cars on the road that have been bought with the government’s plug-in grant scheme and numbers are rising steadily.”

The behavioural insights team – originally set up as Whitehall’s “nudge unit” to promote changing the way people acted – said the plan could help “normalise” electric vehicle use.

Elisabeth Costa, director at the behavioural insights team, said: “We support efforts to increase awareness of the numbers of clean vehicles on our roads. Simple changes based on behavioural science can have a big impact.

“Green plates would be more noticeable to road users and this increased attraction can help normalise the idea of clean vehicles, highlighting the changing social norms around vehicle ownership.”

Uber To Start Focusing More On Electric Bicycles And Scooters

Uber is a brand that’s synonymous with taxis, and yet the company could soon be shifting away from the vehicle that has helped make its millions and instead be offering you an electric scooter or bicycle.Speaking to the Financial Times, Uber&rsqu…