London Gridlocked By Black Cabs' Uber Protest
Wednesday 11th June 2014
The Black Cab drivers' protest against Uber brought London to a standstill as up to 5,000 vehicles deliberately clogged the streets of central London.
The video above shows the sheer noise in Trafalgar Square and up Whitehall as vehicles involved in the protest beeped their horns.
Cabbies converged on Trafalgar Square to stage a major protest over mobile phone app called Uber - which cab drivers claim works as a meter and breaks the rules on private cabs not being allowed to use them.
Unions and groups representing taxi drivers have warned that the move is leading to unlicensed drivers being contacted, with no checks on whether they are legitimate.
Protesters in Trafalgar Square chanted "Boris, Boris, Boris, out, out, out", while taxi drivers beeped their horns as demonstrators held placards.
One driver told LBC: "The main reason for the protest is not so much the stealing of passengers, but the legislation of them having a phone as a meter.
"The meters have to be passed and chipped by the Public Carriage Office and their's won't be. They are breaking into our customers illegally.
"We want to make TfL wake up to how we feel. They regulate us really closely and they seem to let Uber get on and do what they want to do because they've got so much financial backing.
One of the criticisms is that Uber cabs are not safe and not licenced, but Jo Bertram from Uber denied this to LBC.
She said: "We actually have better public safety, I believe, than most other operators.
"As soon as you make the booking, you get passed the driver's photo, his or her name and registration, so you can be 100% sure you are getting into a licensed vehicle with a licensed driver."
Reports suggest that Uber registrations have gone up 850% on the day of the protest due to the publicity about the app.
Earlier today, Uber has sent an email to customers announcing that it's extending its service to its own black cabs.
It means that people will be able to book a black cab using the app - just as as you can with its own minicabs at the moment.
The Met Police imposed strict conditions on this demonstration, with the cab drivers only allowed in certain restricted areas from 2 - 3pm.
Officers also said they will stop people gathering when they deem the area has become too congested.
Traffic has now returned to normal - see live travel news>>