The death knell for UBER is sounding once again as TFL have just announced it will not be renewing its licence, but we’ve heard that before, and taken 353 journeys since. So what makes them actually now not ‘fit and proper’?
Like a career criminal trying to appeal to probation officers, UBER has been going through the do-good motions, but after an initial ban, a 15-month, and then a further 2-month extension, they haven’t made release. It’s estimated that approximately 14,000 journeys were carried out by unauthorised drivers who, because of a change in the system, were allowed to upload their photo to an existing driver's account. An unnerving, eye-widening thought.
Equally unnerving, and eye-widening however, is the thought of life without it. UBER changed the genetic make-up of our nights out, nights in (UBER Eats), and mornings after. Like the other few, but fabled (slightly unethical) brands that have become verbs, UBER will forever be etched on our collective, convenience-loving consciousness. Alongside an image of a Toyota Prius with its hazards on. Three minute wait times. Door-to-door service. Flimsy-plastic bottles of water if you’re lucky. And therapy sessions about your ailing career - or theirs - if you’re luckier still.
In a single night, no number of UBER journeys is too many. One to the party, one home from the party, and another to return your keys that you left at the party. The post-mortem of a night out is simply incomplete without a dedicated UBER segment. You love the friend who tells you not to worry about splitting the fare a lot, and you love the Silicon Valley investors who’ve subsidised your social life for the last seven years even more. The £5 cancellation fees are a bummer, but only for those who don’t know that a challenge is almost always followed by recompense. Sure, the concept took a lot of explaining to your parents who still wave a £20 note while telling the driver to ‘keep the change’. And yes, that 8.7x surcharge was vexing, but you're still dining out the story that you once paid £77 to travel from Highbury to Hoxton.
UBER tried so very hard to make good. It put out some wholesome adverts showing a mother travelling home to see her freshly-bathed babies, sharing her location with her husband as she went. They even pandered to our privacy with a development that we’ll call Shut Up and Drive, by adding a quiet preference on the app. But alas, it looks likely to end as it begun, bending rules, irking as many people as it pleases, and with a dire balance sheet.
But before you reacquaint yourself with the night bus, know that UBER intends to appeal… again, and it has 21 days to do so. We’ll keep you in our thoughts and prayers, UBS.