For a long time, hopping into a black cab has been the most effective way to get around London and undeniably one of the most iconic ways too. London is a city smothered in tradition and arguably the beating heart of the Great British dislike for change. With that in mind, you can likely imagine that when trendy American success story, Uber, launched in the UK a few years back it was always going to cause something of a stir. And what a stir it did cause too.
Uber is a tech start-up worth a lot of money and I mean a lot of money and that's no surprise considering the huge success it has grown into across the world. However, if by some remote chance, you're not aware of what Uber is, let me bring you up to speed. Uber was founded in California in the United States back in 2009 as a "smart taxi service", effectively allowing users to summon a taxi from an app on their smartphone. It's as simple and as convenient as that.
With the above taken into consideration, you'd likely expect that Londoners would be excited to see the service roll out across the great city. However, that definitely doesn't appear to be the case as the service has picked up prominence in the city over the past couple of years. That dislike has largely been bolstered by traditional black cab drivers who are pretty understandably against the rise of Uber. In fact, so much so that central London was brought to a standstill back last year in a protest by black cab drivers against the rise of Uber and lack of regulation around the service.
A lot of opposition has risen up against the tech firm, however, in my humble opinion; the time has come for London to embrace Uber instead of fighting against it.
Uber does exactly what technology is designed to do and that is make all of our lives easier. We're more than happy to order our shopping from the likes of Ocado or have film streamed directly to the TV with Netflix, so I still don't understand what the big problem with using an online service to summon a taxi is. Of course I feel incredibly sorry for those black cab drivers, but let's be honest, their demise is almost inevitable, and so what is the use in delaying it?
There's absolutely no reason why a good black cab driver with a few years of experience wouldn't be accepted into Uber's fold or any of the other technology based taxi services. The space in the market is still there for London's original drivers, it's just changing and we need to embrace that.
It's difficult to understand what the long-term plan of those campaigning against Uber is. Picture the near future when travellers from New York, Washington or even Paris arrive in London, pull out their smartphone to hail a cab, only to find that they can't and instead have to find a taxi-rank. Even now, that sounds archaic and what good is a city striving to be a global hub when it's transport is still archaic?
It's this kind of old-fashioned tradition that is holding London back from truly being the greatest city on earth. Unless London begins to accept Uber as part of everyday life and embrace it instead of fighting against it, the city is going to become something of a laughing stock on the global stage.
How can London remain a major hub for business across the world if it's unable to accept simple developments in technology?