A self-styled “vigilante Uber hunter” has been filming himself as he takes on what he claims are illegally parked taxi drivers parking in disabled bays.
Salvatore Barrile, alongside a group of taxi drivers “fighting for their livelihoods”, has been challenging private hire drivers parking illegally in taxi rank bays at Egham Railway Station.
The 46-year-old, who has been a hackney carriage driver for 16 years in Runnymede borough, said the situation was bigger than many might think. “We are getting flooded by Uber drivers coming from all over,” he said. “It is going on every day. I just hope people understand the effect Uber is having on our livelihood. It isn’t just parking on non-authorised taxi bays.”
Mr Barrile has documented his woes with drivers over the months, taking pictures and videos of various cars parking in both disabled and taxi bays, reports Get Surrey.
A spokesman for Uber said he “believed” both taxis featured in Mr Barrile’s videos were “Uber Partners”. They said: “We will remind drivers that have carried out pre-booked trips from Egham Station where they are able to park.”
Meanwhile, TfL Taxi and Private Hire vehicle checker was able to verify both taxis in the video are licensed in London, meaning the two drivers caught on camera were carrying out trips in the Runnymede area.
According to advisory literature on the Runnymede Borough Council website, the holder can “take pre-booked jobs in an area covering a radius from that borough.” This means in boroughs which do allow Uber drivers to operate such as Windsor, Maidenhead, London Boroughs and Woking, the holder can then use their licence in “a radius” from that area. But Mr Barrile believes these rules make a “mockery” of the licensing system.
“As a taxi licensed by Runnymede, I have to follow all the regulations including a topographical knowledge test of the area, proof that I can drive safely by doing a driving test too,” he said. “And in the meantime, all those drivers coming from outside the area don’t have to follow any of these regulations.”
He also claims Uber is “overworking” its drivers by making them work “over 16-hour days”, an allegation refuted by an Uber spokesman.
“Licensed private hire drivers who use the Uber app are independent contractors who are free to log into the app when and where they choose,” he said. The spokesman added the average number of hours a driver has logged onto the Uber app is 28 hours a week.