Uber app gets green light in London following protests

Taxis blockade Whitehall on June 11, 2014 in London, England. London's licensed black taxi drivers are campaigning against the introduction of the 'Uber' taxi smartphone app in the United kingdom. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

TORONTO – London’s transport regulator has given ride-sharing service Uber the green light to continue operating in the British capital, despite uproar from the city’s taxi drivers.

Transport for London (TfL) rejected claims from London’s taxi drivers that the app violates a British law that says only licensed black taxis can use a meter. TfL ruled that smartphones running Uber’s app are not taximeters as defined by the legislation.

READ MORE: Why taxi drivers are so upset about car-for-hire apps

The ruling comes less than a month after massive protests in London which saw over 12,000 of the city’s famous black-cab drivers clogging city streets to show their opposition to the app.

“We think this is contrary to Transportation for London’s (TfL) own regulations, which state that only we can use a meter, but that’s been sidestepped on the technicality that, being an app, the Uber meter is not “fitted” to the vehicle as it is in a hackney cab,” wrote London cab driver Ian Beetlestone in a column for The Guardian.

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READ MORE: European taxi drivers protest Uber app

Uber, which earned US$258 million in financing from Google Ventures in 2013, allows users to book taxi rides through its smartphone app. The trip fare is calculated using the driver’s taxi meter app.

Uber’s prices vary from city to city and the fare is paid later by credit card.

Despite TfL’s ruling, a British court will have the final say on whether Uber’s app should be considered a taximeter.

However, according to a Bloomberg report, the decision will be delayed since the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association filed criminal proceedings against six Uber drivers.

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