Smartphones used by some Uber drivers to harness GPS technology for the calculation of fares do not classify as taximeters, the High Court has ruled.
Mr Justice Ouseley declares that while the smartphone with the driver’s app may be essential to enabling the calculation of fares to take place, that did not make it a device specifically for calculating fares. Cabbies have long argued that the use of GPS to calculate a fare makes it a meter, which would be illegal in London. They are hoping to curtail Uber's activities in the city through this argument.
The judge also found that it was drivers, not their vehicles, who are “equipped” with smartphones.
Uber will be cock-a-hoop about the decision, while TfL says it has always believed that the smartphones did not constitute meters.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), on the other hand, is apoplectic, tweeting:
The law really is an Ass! It uses time & distance to calculate fare and it's not a meter????— The LTDA (@TheLTDA) October 16, 2015
The LTDA says it will now take the case to the Supreme Court.
TfL says the number of private hire drivers has risen from around 59,000 in 2009/10 to over 89,000 now. Within two years that figure could rise to 128,000. Dark days indeed for the black cab.