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Female Uber passengers have said they will feel less safe taking taxis or cabs if Uber is forced to leave London.
The capital’s transport regulator, Transport for London (TfL), today revoked Uber’s licence in a shock decision. The company plans to appeal the decision in court, and can continue operating in the meantime.
One reason TfL gave for its decision was passenger safety. The regulator didn’t go into detail, but that comes after a Metropolitan police inspector complained that Uber didn’t do enough to report sexual assaults by drivers.
Inspector Neil Billany said Uber failed to report an assault by one driver, who then went on to carry out a second sexual assault on a passenger.
And a Freedom of Information request last year found an Uber driver is accused of assault almost three times a month. Uber accounted for a fifth of all assault claims against taxi and car-hire drivers in 2015, the figures showed.
But women responding to the news on Twitter said they still felt safer with Uber.
If that feels contradictory, here are some of the reasons they gave:
- The app tracks your location and lets you share it with friends You can wait somewhere safe until your Uber turns up, whereas a black cab involves waiting on the street Uber serves the suburbs of London, where it’s harder to find a black cab Some minority women feel surer that Uber will accept their custom Women feel men are more likely to harass them on public transport, especially at night
Uber is great, especially late at night, a good safer option for traveling home after a night out. £15 uber to zone 3 £40 black cab
— Sapphire (@_hairule_) September 22, 2017
If TfL are banning uber, with one of the reasons being saftey, will TfL make public transport in London safer? Probs not!
— Carrie Walsh (@walshlette) September 22, 2017
Know Uber is massively problematic on a corporate level, but I've felt safer in tracked ride with them, than awful lot of minicabs.
— Jane (@RedFoxglove) September 22, 2017
Was explaining to a (white) friend that for all its flaws, Uber is life support. I KNOW the driver will accept my fare (unlike black cabs)
— Citizen of Nowhere (@sunnysingh_n6) September 22, 2017
One problem for female passengers (and anyone without good public transport links) is the “last mile” problem – public transport will almost get you to where you need to go, but you need something like Uber to actually get you to your own house. Banning Uber for London makes it a little bit tougher to solve that problem.
One possible outcome of an appeal is that Uber will need to make big changes to the way it operates in order to win back its licence. Ideally that would include better driver checks, and the promise of an improved line of reporting to the police and Transport for London. If that happens, Uber will end up being safer for women than ever before.