Uber, the ride-sharing app that has enjoyed astronomical success across the world since launching in San Francisco, has been facing a fresh wave of controversies over recent days. The app, which passengers use to connect to drivers for hire via their smartphones or tablets, is available across 42 countries in over 200 cities worldwide – but its success has not been welcomed by everyone.
In the UK in June, black cab drivers staged a protest in the city against Uber, claiming that the application collected data on journeys and thus was infringing upon their rights to be the sole users of taxi metres in London. Other councils and municipal organisations around the world have been taking a stand against Uber too, with criticism ranging from unfair undercutting of prices to safety concerns and accusations of operating an unlicensed taxi service. Following protests in Berlin, the German court ruled last week to ban Uber from operating in its cities.
Now, it seems Uber drivers themselves have joined the fray. Following the company’s decision to offer a lower-cost, non-luxury service known as ‘UberX’, drivers have been taking to the streets outside Uber’s Long Island City offices to protest the bad working conditions and low wages that have come about as a result. By focusing on budget customers, drivers feel that the company is forcing them to accept wages lower than what they would make as normal private hire drivers – and many of them are jumping ship entirely.
Uber is an interesting example of where new technology could take the private hire industry – but evidently there are many lessons yet to be learned.