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Thursday, August 18, 2016
Uber challenge new rules to impose English tests on foreign drivers
The largest non-taxi owning firm, Uber, has just launched a
legal challenge in London against new rules requiring thousands of cab drivers
to pass an English test, the BBC reports.
Transport for London (TfL), which regulates taxis and other
transport, wants all private-hire drivers who do not come from English-speaking
countries to prove their English language skills from October 2016.
Most passengers as well as drivers should support the exam, which
is similar to an IELTS and testing drivers in reading, writing and listening
Despite contact with vulnerable people, the private-hire
industry is not as regulated as the care industry. Drivers can obtain licenses
in some areas with limited driving experience, a few checks and virtually no
immigration checks depending on where they operate.
The sector provides a living for hundreds of thousands of migrants from the EU and non-EU countries.
Uber, which has disrupted taxi sector in London (credit
cards, online booking and lower fares), is also challenging new rules requiring
the firm to inform TfL of any upcoming changes to its app.
"This legal action is very much a last resort,"
said Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber London.
"We're particularly disappointed that, after a lengthy
consultation process with Transport for London, the goalposts have moved at the
last minute and new rules are now being introduced that will be bad for both
drivers and tech companies like Uber."
Uber, which originally supported an English-speaking and
listening test, now claims TfL has changed the requirements so that drivers
have to provide a certificate showing they have an intermediate level of writing
and reading. Uber says the test is unnecessary and costly.
The U.S. giant controls more than 30,000 drivers in London,
despite not owning or operating taxis or employing a single driver.
Uber is based in Ireland, which accounts for the fact that
the company paid just £22,000 corporation tax in 2014, according to The
Guardian. The company is one of many American tech giants which pay little or
no tax in the UK while generating billions in profits.
The Uber legal challenge, by a firm which pays hardly any tax here, could cost UK taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. The lawyers will, of course, be rubbing their hands with glee.
Uber is also peeved about a ruling that all private-hire
companies must have a customer call centre within the London area that
passengers are able to ring during a ride.
TfL confirmed it has received a letter from Uber warning of
the legal challenge and will defend it.
In a statement, it said: "We responded to Uber's letter
and will be robustly defending the legal proceedings brought by them in
relation to the changes to private-hire regulations."
What is your experience with UBER or other taxi drivers?
Would you prefer a driverless vehicle and would you feel safer late at night.
Driverless vehicles will replace millions of jobs as the digital revolution changes everything
Uber driverless car
Uber are rolling out plans to allow users to hail
self-driving cars, not in the distant science fiction-based future, but within weeks,
the company has confirmed.
The launch will take place in Pittsburgh, where it is
teaming up with Volvo. Volvo has already been testing self-driving versions of
the same vehicle in Sweden as part of its "Drive Me" project,
said Alan Stevens at the UK's Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and the
Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The firm has also trialled the
vehicle in Australia and plans to do so in London next year.
This is a brilliant publicity coup for Uber, as the vehicles
will initially be supervised by a driver, who can take control if necessary,
and an observer, however, it is clear where this is going. Uber eventually hopes to replace its one million drivers,
Uber's founder Travis Kalanick has been outlining a world
dominating vision of a self-driving fleet for some years and has raised £10
billion dollars to make it happen.
A spokeswoman for the firm told the BBC: "Starting
later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon
self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no
automotive or technology company has yet achieved.
"In Pittsburgh, customers will request cars the normal
way, via Uber's app, and will be paired with a driverless car at random. Trips
will be free for the time being, rather than the standard local rate of $1.30
[£0.98] per mile."
Over three million people are employed in the transport industry
in the U.S. alone. It will be long before most of our goods will be delivered
by driverless cars and trucks. Amazon has already started using drones to
delivering parcels in America.
Early results from tests show that robot-driven cars are
safer than the average human driver – and they don’t drink or get into road
On a more serious point, we are all going to have to adapt
to more and more of our jobs being done by computers, robots and machines. This is happening now across many industries and will remove humans from tens of millions of jobs in the next few years.
The digital revolution is already upon us, so get ready! However, I am
convinced that you can work from home
and make money online provided you have the right internet
training and support and real products of value to market. You need training. If you try
tinker at it on your own you will reduce your chances of making enough money to
quit your job and living the life you really want. Nearly all businesses use
the internet these days, so it's not some obscure idea. The latest internet boom is
only just starting, according to the experts, and we can all ride the next