Uber is a modern company and many students and city residents use it to get around. London's city council doesn't seem to understand that.
After approving a bylaw months ago that would not have required Uber drivers to have cameras in their vehicle, council has pulled a 180 and passed a motion that now actually requires them. Uber has been pretty unequivocal: if we need cameras, we're packing up and leaving London.
Of course, the taxi industry would love this. Uber would shrug — the London market is nothing in the grand schemes of things. But students who use the service for a more affordable and convenient option would suffer. Drivers who use Uber to supplement their income will also bear the brunt of the decision.
It's another decision from London's city council that can't seem decide if we're living in a world akin to The Jetsons or The Flintstones.
When debating rapid transit months ago, many councillors noted that autonomous vehicles were the way of the future. They mused about the potential for self-driving buses! Then some of those same councillors turned around and opposed Uber.
And for what reason?
Many students feel that riding in an Uber is safer than taking a cab. They point out that they can rate their experience, easily report any problems and the route is being tracked. A camera would only capture a bad or criminal experience after it has already occurred.
Logistically speaking, the implementation of cameras in Uber cars is also tricky. Many use these cars privately. Can you turn the cameras on and off? Couldn't someone just turn a camera off? Who is monitoring this footage? The questions that are spurred from this decision don't have answers yet.
This decision by the council isn't just a giant middle finger to students — although it is — it's also dismissive of large swaths of London in general. The market for Uber seems to be expanding; it's not just a service for tech-savvy millennial students.
In 2014, many incumbents from city council were turfed and replaced with younger politicians who were seemingly more forward thinking. London needs to embrace this mentality more than an attitude where the city should just "settle."
Uber is a forward-looking company and the city could learn a lot by embracing it. We shouldn't have to just embrace cabs because that's the way things have always been.
London, settle for more.