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Uber’s Blitz on London Leads to Steep Drop in Black-Cab Recruits

Discussion in 'Uber Drivers Forum' started by Dreamer, May 13, 2015.

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  1. Dreamer

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    Staff Member

    Jan 19, 2015
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    London’s famous black cabs, which have ferried city-goers around the capital for more than a century, are in danger of being run out of town by upstart U.S. taxi app Uber Technologies Inc.

    Data obtained by Bloomberg from Transport for London, the transit authority, show black-taxi license applications are down 20 percent so far this year, with the blame being laid squarely at Uber’s door.

    At the same time, the number of budding cabbies looking to take “The Knowledge” -- the notoriously difficult test that all black-taxi drivers must pass -- has fallen more than two-thirds at one of the main examination centers.

    The steep drop will stoke fears that a feature of London life going back to the time of Oliver Cromwell is under threat. Black-cab drivers are also worried about the prospects for a profession that some say brings yearly earnings of as much as 50,000 pounds ($78,000).

    “I’ve never seen declines like this and I’ve been driving a taxi for 30 years,” said Steve McNamara, head of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who estimates 1,200 new Uber drivers are starting up in London every month. The company itself declines to give a figure.

    The Knowledge, which can mean four years of study and requires the memorizing of 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks, isn’t needed at Uber, whose drivers rely on GPS technology to navigate town.

    About 15,000 drivers in the capital already work for the app that first appeared in 2012. They’re still outnumbered by 25,000 black cabs, but the decline in new recruits means Uber drivers could soon overtake traditional cabbies, a milestone they’ve already passed in New York City.

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