Uber vs Black Cabs
When it comes to the idea of street war, what comes to mind? Is it gnarled gangsters, their faces creased from years of seeing harsh truths, the few survivors left that live past their early twenties? Is it London escorts, fighting for corners and trying to ensure that their agency works that particular part of town? Is it the kind of social fight that sees gentrified areas come into conflict with those that lived there before, bricks going through windows and the march of hundreds with flames and masks? There’s a plethora of images we associate with the term, but the latest street war is one that nobody really expected.
Waged between an established elite and an upstart newcomer, it has all the classic hallmarks. It could be a plot from a new season of The Wire and no one would blink an eye. The old timers had themselves something of a monopoly, a way to control what went on in their industry in the town and to put a stop to anyone who stood against them. There was a code. Now these new boys are in town and they’ve torn up the rule book. They simply don’t care. They’re gonna do what they want, when they want it, how they want to.
It probably sounds again like we’re talking about something feud between escorts in London or some gangster troubles. In reality though, the war we’re talking about is the cab war, between the old guard of the black cabs and the new challengers that come in the form of uber. These two have been at each other’s throats since their inception and it’s no wonder. After all, Uber was founded to fight everything that the cabbies stand for. It’s a fundamental and some would say inherent conflict, and one that doesn’t look to be resolved anytime soon.
The cabbies though, are slowly losing. As is so often the case with the old guard, they’ve grown slow and fat and careless. They thought they couldn’t be challenged and now that they are they find that they’re not what they once were. Too long spent resting on laurels, so when a lean, focussed young competitor comes along, their connections and money don’t mean a thing. They can simply be outrun, beaten mile for mile, pound for pound. Their initial solution was to call on the city, to mount a legal challenge. To say to all those men in power, the ones that love seeing their London escorts discretely through black cabs, what are you going to do about this? Are you just going to let any old person in this business.
Now though, that challenge has been dropped, and cabbies face an entirely new challenge. Their reputation is still there, but their influence is not. If they’re going to survive, they’re going to need to change how they work, how they think, what they do. Simply put, if they want to keep on the top they’re going to need to be the best again, to shed those pounds and get back in the ring. As it stands at the moment, the fight is over before the bell has even rung.