It was perhaps an omen. Just a few hours before it all kicked off, we'd been talking to an Uber driver, who believed that TfL would make the shock decision of revoking the cab app's licence to operate in London.
At around 10.50am on 22 September, we were hearing on the grapevine that TfL planned to strip Uber of its Licence to operate in London. A press release followed shortly, in which TfL said:
TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.
Our Uber driver had predicted his own company's downfall.
Predictably, black cab groups such as the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association responded jubilantly to the news.
Response from Londoners was mixed — many exasperated that they could lose their access to cheap teaxi travel (and high Uber rating) as early as 30 September, while others took the tack that Uber has been getting away with too much, and that the revoked licence is a fair move from TfL.
#uber made London far more bearable. I want it— David Harold (@dcharold) September 22, 2017
I gotta wake up to this? This is worse than Brexit #uber— Ally Steele (@Ally_S) September 22, 2017
Others were just trying to look on the bright side.
Well maybe now I can get healthy because #Uber can't deliver me McDonald's when I'm hungover any more 🤣😫— Nadia Essex (@LadyNadiaEssex) September 22, 2017
Some people mused on how black cabbies might be feeling right now.
Others worried about how the move will affect their nightlife. There is certainly an irony in how Uber's licence has been revoked mainly for safety fears, whereas many Uber users now feel their nights out in the capital will be less safe.
Oh, and some people didn't really care either way.
Finding it hard to drudge up sympathy for Londoners when I live in Cornwall, where you often have to wait 4 hours between buses #uber 🙄— Yazzy Saz (@SpringRain88) September 22, 2017
While black cab unions and their leaders, such as Steve McNamara came under fire from supporters of Uber, for many, the main man to blame for this was Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Khan himself responded in a press release, supporting TfL's decision, and underpinning that the decision has been made for safety and security reasons:
I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners...
...However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect - particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.
I fully support TfL’s decision — it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.
This afternoon we received an email from Uber, not as press, but as a customer, urging us to sign a petition to save the company.
With 3.5m Uber customers in London, we have little doubt that the petition will hit its quota. Whether or not it makes a difference, we're less sure.
In the meantime, there are rumblings about an Uber protest in central London — well, it makes a change from black cab drivers protesting about Uber drivers.
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