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 skills.

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, Bloomberg said.

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 rage!

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 wave.

See also:

Uber offering free English courses to migrant worker drivers

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