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UK: Competition head rejects Tfl move to curb Uber

 |  December 1, 2015

The head of the UK’s competition watchdog has criticised London’s transport authority over proposals aimed at curtailing the rise of Uber and other taxi app groups, saying its actions threaten to “slam on the brakes” on innovation, reports the Financial Times.

Transport for London is proposing an array of tougher rules for private-hire vehicles and has opened a consultation on new regulations. These would include forcing drivers to wait five minutes before picking up a customer, not allowing apps to show vehicles available for hire on a map and giving fixed fares at the start of a journey. More than 192,000 people have signed an online petition against the planned rules.

The TfL proposals, widely seen as a way of constraining Uber, follow a sharp rise in the number of minicabs. Incumbent taxi groups, such as black cab drivers, have also lobbied TfL to act against apps, saying a lack of regulation is hurting them.

But in a rare instance of a UK regulator criticising the actions of another, Alex Chisholm, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, attacked TfL’s proposed rules.

Writing in the Financial Times on Wednesday, he said they “would artificially restrict competition, curbing developments that benefit the paying passenger”.

“New taxi business models have the potential to increase choice and deliver what passengers want — quicker waiting times, lower prices and increased responsiveness.”

Mr Chisholm added that regulatory delays to Uber’s growth were frustrating the wishes of consumers, stating that 25,000 people had downloaded the app in Liverpool by March but the service only won approval from authorities in August.

Full content: The Financial Times

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