The recent publication of Transport for London’s (TFL’s) proposed changes to the Private Hire Vehicles Regulations has garnered significant media attention. It has been suggested that they are a blatant attack on app innovators, including Uber. The press is awash with allegations that TFL’s proposals will severely restrict competition in the taxi market and will give black cab drivers an unfair competitive advantage. However, while this may be the case, it’s possible that, from a Competition Law perspective at least, there may be little room for legal challenge.
On 30 September 2015, TFL released various proposed changes to the regulations that govern the licensing and operation of Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) in London. The changes will only apply to PHVs and not to black cabs. Among the proposed changes are:
- A mandatory 5-minute delay between the customer ordering the car and starting their journey.
- Operators must not show vehicles available for immediate hire, either visibly or virtually via an app.
Both of these proposals would clearly have an impact on the business model of app-based PHVs, which typically provide a virtual map showing the proximity of available cars. Uber, in particular, prides itself on supplying a car at very short notice – usually within 5 minutes.
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