Uber introduces 15p “clean air fee” on London fares
Since nearly being banned from operating in London a year ago, Uber has tried its hardest to endear itself to Transport for London. Its latest venture is the introduction of a clean air fee for journeys across London.
With this fee, Uber hopes to save up £200m which it will put towards buying electric cars for the 45,000 drivers currently operating in the capital. Each mile travelled will now cost an extra 15p on top of the usual fare. For example, the 11-mile journey from London Paddington to Heathrow Airport, which currently costs from £30 to £41, will now cost an extra £1.65
At 15p per mile, Uber would need 1.3 billion miles to be driven, or 53,544 trips around the earth, to hit its £200m target. Since the average Uber trip in London is 3 miles, this requires over 444 million journeys or every Uber driver in London to hit 10,000 miles.
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Uber anticipates a driver working for 40 hours per week could expect around £1,500 per year in support towards getting an electric vehicle — which incentivises drivers to work even harder than they currently do.
Since nearly half Uber drivers make below minimum wage already, expecting them to shell out for new cars has been seen as a cruel move by some. The IWGB Union, which represents independent workers, is organising a protest on 30 October against the “exploitative model” Uber uses with its employees.
With the UK government hoping to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040 – with an early trial beginning in 2019 – and London already one of the most polluted cities in Europe, it makes sense that Uber begins working towards green initiatives. However, given that Uber has a controversy-laden past, and was temporarily banned from operating in London due to its business practices, it remains dubious if the clean air fee really is a pledge to environmental concerns, or simply a PR drive designed to aide the company’s upcoming court case against the IWGB Union.