Transport for London yesterday began a public consultation, Private Hire Regulations Review: Response to Consultation and Further Proposals, which closes on 23 December.
It asks stakeholders 31 questions, including whether private hire vehicle operators should offer bookings seven days in advance of their journey, whether operators should be forced to have a landline telephone number available for customers, and whether customers should be provided with details of the vehicle at least five minutes before the journey commencing.
Uber has since launched a Twitter campaign #UbermovesLDN – with Uber users tweeting reasons they enjoy the service – and is also urging people to sign an online petition to reject the proposals. More than 114,000 people have added their signatures as of this morning.
Jo Bertram, regional general manager, UK, Ireland and Nordics, Uber, told PRWeek: "These bureaucratic new rules will not improve your ride."
Gareth Mead, head of comms EMEA, Uber, added: "We're humbled that 100,000 Londoners showed their support for Uber in just 24 hours. We know black-cab organisations are worried about competition from apps but the answer is to level the playing field by reducing the burden on cabbies, not introduce more rules that will be bad for the public."
Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s chief operating officer for Surface Transport, said: "The consultation sets out a number of ways that standards across the industry could be raised, ensuring Londoners can continue to benefit from the service provided by licensed private hire vehicles. No final decisions have been made and we’re keen to hear a range of views from the trade and from Londoners too."
The consultation follows a previous review by TfL that ran between March and June this year, receiving 3,934 responses. Of those, 1,400 came from Uber drivers, who had been sent an email template by Uber and encouraged to forward that to TfL.
The summary of that TfL review said: "These emails did not address the specific questions or issues raised in the consultation document, but discussed the benefits of Uber services to customers and drivers."
The TfL petition is also becoming a hot political topic in the UK, with the press analysing the responses from the various candidates for London Mayor and other politicians, some of whom have appeared to err on the side of black-cab drivers, who have previously protested against Uber's operations.
Globally, Uber is also under scrutiny, with executives in France facing a trial and Rio de Janeiro reportedly the first Brazilian city to place a ban on the company. It also faced a major public affairs battle in New York earlier this year.
Uber has been shaking up its marketing presence in the UK of late, having contacted ad agencies in the UK last month, while Mead joined Uber in April as it took its PR operations in-house and put its public affairs account out to pitch.