Technology-based taxi firm Uber looks set to lose its operating licence in London, unless its last minute attempts to overturn a ban are successful.
Not only does this make it possible that around 40,000 Uber drivers will lose their full or part time sources of income, it will create a ripple effect throughout consumers and transport providers, not least because countless British people with disabilities will see the wheels come off one of the most popular forms of wheelchair accessible transport.
The shock announcement from Transport for London that it would not renew Uber’s operating licence was based on a view the company is “not 'fit and proper'”. This included concerns about “potential public safety and security implications”.
This is not the first time Uber’s operating systems have been called into question. It is already under scrutiny in other countries for alleged improprieties.
Uber offers the most fully wheelchair accessible vehicles of any private hire operation in London, and using the company’s app has meant being able to book a door to door service swiftly. However, these safety concerns have to be taken seriously.
Taxi firms in other parts of the UK are also finding regulation and control is tightening up. A recent newspaper report from West Sussex featured the owners of four wheelchair accessible taxis that had been forced out of business by the licensing authority’s decision to outlaw older vehicles.
All of this uncertainty and tighter regulation could leave people with mobility issues facing even less options when they need transport to appointments, shops and social opportunities.
The best way to approach this situation is to consider purchasing your own wheelchair accessible vehicle using disability grants that are available to keep you mobile. This will mean never having to rely on a taxi firm again, and enjoying new levels of freedom and control.