Uber is now directing its customers to predetermined “pick up points” located in London, which taxi drivers claim are needed by taxi ranks.

It has been reported that Uber has directed customers to designated “pick up points” positioned on Archer Street, Romilly Street and Wardour Street in London.  This is because a lot of Soho is inaccessible due to outside dining that has blossomed as lockdown restrictions lifted and restaurants open for diners to eat outdoors.

Wierd News recently reported that the “world’s first taxi rank” when in 1634, in the shadow of the 100-foot tall maypole outside the church of St Mary-Le-Strand in London, 4 men dressed in uniform sat waiting on horse-drawn carriages all lined up in a row. They worked for Cptn. John Bailey, a wealthy colleague of Sir Walter Raleigh’s expeditions, and had been given clear instructions to charge people pre-determined tariffs to transport them to various areas of London.

The exclusive right of taxi (hackney carriage) drivers to park ready for hire on London’s taxi ranks is interweaved in law. The London Hackney Carriages Act of 1850, section 4 empowers TfL to allow taxis numbers near me ranks and make restrictions as to the limits of the ranks, the number of taxis allowed to wait for hire there, the times during which they can ply for hire and also by enforcing order at the ranks, and removing any person found to be loitering there.

According to Uber, the “pick-up points” are not taxi ranks. An Uber spokesperson is reported to have said that “the pedestrianisation of some areas of Soho has left riders unsure of the best place to meet their driver, and it set up these spots to make drivers and passengers lives easier alike.

“Drivers shouldn’t wait for a ride in these areas or pick up any passengers they are not matched with on the app,” the spokesperson says. Uber is apparently in talks with TfL and Westminster City Council to find a solution to this issue and says the pick-up spots will not be permanent.

On the other hand, taxi drivers drivers say these “pick-up” points are tantamount to taxi ranks and sets a dangerous precedent.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association has reportedly said “Uber has always got away with everything.

“I don’t believe there is malicious intent, I don’t think there is an intent to do anything illegal, there’s just the ‘I do what I want attitude’.” – Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association

TfL states it is “investigating the issue” and has deployed officers to monitor specific locations to ensure that no vehicles are causing an obstruction to the highway.