Uber and London don't have the best relationship at the moment. Transport for London refused to renew the company's operating licence last year, and while Uber made enough changes for the courts to temporarily renew it's right to operate within the capital things aren't back to normal. Now London Mayor Sadiq Khan has revealed he wants there to be a cap on the number of Uber drivers within London, in a bid to reduce congestion and pollution.
Khan said that the cap was an "urgent and necessary" step, but noted that he's not actually able to make that happen right now. For this reason he's called on the government to grant him extra powers to help limit the number of private hire vehicles within the capital, which are often blamed for worsening central London's rising pollution and congestion. Presumably, while Khan name-dropped Uber, he would be placing this hypothetical cap on all private hire firms.
Khan wrote to transport Secretary Chris Grayling about this situation, with the intention of limiting the "unsustainable rise" in London drivers. He brought up the issues faced with congestion and pollution within London, while also pointing out that an increasing number of drivers is affecting the livelihood of those already working. Despite that he also emphasised that he's “determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market in the capital, with space for all providers to flourish”.
Khan's letter similarly referenced the fact New York implemented a one-year freeze on new licenses for vehicles used by ride-hailing services. That same move also guaranteed app-centre drivers a minimum wage, but it's not clear whether Khan has any intention of doing that within London. It's likely out of his hands as well, and the fact he hasn't brought it up means it's probably not on his immediate agenda. [The Guardian]
Update: Uber has been in touch to point out that this is nothing new, and Sadiq Khan and TfL have been calling for powers to limit the number of London's private hire drivers for a while. It's also pinned the pollution situation on black cabs, because of course the competition is the true problem. According to Uber figures from TfL claim black cabs will be the single largest cause of emissions by 2020. Let's be honest, though, the problem is cars in general. It doesn't matter if they're black cabs, private hire, or privately owned.
A spokesperson also passed on the following statement:
"Uber is committed to helping address congestion and air pollution and we strongly support the Mayor's Ultra Low Emission Zone. Already more than half of the miles travelled with Uber are in hybrid or electric vehicles. By competing with private cars, getting more people into fewer vehicles and investing in our Clean Air Plan, we can be a part of solution in London."