For many people, a car is not just a luxury item — it’s an important asset for their employment, the very thing they depend on to fund their lives. Cars have become ever-more vital in recent years, as people take to the roads in a bid to earn a living by driving.
In the past few years, this has become even more prevalent. Uber were not the first company to allow ordinary people to become taxi drivers, but they are by far the biggest and most recognized. Uber have a presence in major cities throughout the world, but news has recently broken which suggests there is trouble brewing.
London vs. Uber
London, England, has had a love/hate relationship with Uber since it began to operate there. The famous black cab drivers in the city hated Uber, insisting it was unsafe and unfair competition. Black cab drivers have to go through rigorous training to work in the city; they did not respond well to anyone being able to call themselves a taxi driver with nothing but an app and a sat nav to support them.
This animosity has long been brewing and there are vocal supporters on both sides. Some say that Uber has made taxis accessible to people who cannot afford the — admittedly high — black cab prices. Those on the side of the black cab drivers insist that Uber is unsafe, that the drivers are unqualified, the cars uninsured. Rather than meticulously-maintained and iconic black cabs, people have been able to browse used cars for sale, make a choice that fits their budget, and then call themselves “cabbies”. This fact is not appreciated by the black cab drivers, who pay a large amount to rent the vehicles they use for work.
Uber has doubtless provided employment opportunities for those who might otherwise struggle for work. The fact that you only need a car and a few gadgets has made it a viable choice, and it’s one the Brits have been taking. Uber claim that they have 40,000 people working in their fare-based system.
The two sides of the argument have been butting heads for a number of years — but recent developments suggest that the black cab drivers may have won. Not only does this matter to the Uber drivers in England, but could potentially have a knock-on effect throughout the world.
So What’s Happened?
Transport For London (most commonly abbreviated to TfL) have announced they are suspending Uber’s right to operate in the city. TfL claim that Uber breach a number of guidelines, and says they lack corporate responsibility to deal with the issues the company has created. There have been numerous reports of Uber drivers being involved in sexual assault cases. TfL also protest Greyball, a system that allows their drivers to obscure their drive records from the authorities. As a result, the Uber licence to operate in London has been suspended. This is as huge as it sounds; effectively, TfL are kicking Uber out of England’s capital.
The news has been joyously received by the black cab drivers, many of whom claim that Uber cost them their livelihoods.
The reaction from the British public has been more mixed. Londoners claim that black cabs are expensive, inconvenient, and don’t offer the journey flexibility that Uber did. They also dislike the fact that black cabs cannot be booked the way Uber can, potentially leaving people alone at night desperately trying to flag down a cab.
London is the first city in the world to ban Uber, though plenty of other cities — including in the USA — have spoken about their dislike for the company. Could this just be the first wave that is going to bring Uber down? And is it still going to be possible to make a living by driving your car?
Future Employment Prospects
Without a doubt, if you have considered using your car as a taxi by joining Uber, now is probably not the time to do it. Uber is relatively easy to sign up to, but their future is looking precarious.
So what are the options?
If you want to drive for a living and are cautious of Uber due to these recent developments, here are a few suggestions:
- Become a licensed taxi driver through a reputable minicab company. This is more expensive to enter and will require a change in your car insurance policy, but it’s far more viable than the “gig economy”. Minicab drivers are usually paid a fixed wage, rather than being reliant on fares.
- Contact the pharmacies in your area to see if they require prescription medication deliveries. You will usually have to pass a background check, but this is a great choice if you have your own vehicle and know your local area well. There is a growing demand for this service, which allows patients to receive their medication even if they are housebound.
- Delivering court summons. Court summons’ documents still have to be delivered in person, which gives you the opportunity to drive between appointments and have a flexible schedule. Contacting your local court to see if they are hiring is your best bet.
- Leafleting is often seen as a student job, but it can actually be lucrative if you can be quick moving from house to house. You can usually find leafleting jobs online, or check local directories to see if there are any possible jobs listed. The work is rarely regular enough to rely on for a full-time income, but it could be a nice driving-based way of supplementing your dayjob.
As For Uber…
There are alternatives to Uber that you could try if you’re determined the app-based gig economy is one you want to be part of. It’s also worth remembering that Uber are appealing London’s decision, so this might only be a temporary fright in their otherwise dominant business plan. If you want to drive your own vehicle for a living, then it seems like this is still going to be a viable job opportunity — provided other cities choose not to follow London’s lead.