It’s Black Friday, the weather’s miserable, so of course today’s the day we’re also slapped with a tube strike.
And due to its surge pricing system, Uber fares are up by 150 percent.
This is the tube’s first multi-line strike since 2018, with the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines severely disrupted for 24 hours. Londoners have been left little choice but to travel to work on packed buses in gridlocked traffic, walk or take taxis. The tube lines that do remain open are expected to be horrendously busy.
With sunset now happening at 4pm, Londoners are being encouraged to try and make plans to travel home early, or to find alternative routes that don’t go through central London. The city is likely to be even busier than usual, with shoppers flocking to the capital to take advantage of the week’s continuing Black Friday sales.
The tube strikes are being held in response to the reintroduction of the Night Tube on the Central and Victoria lines on Friday and Saturday nights. RMT staff say that the Night Tube will ‘wreck work-life balance by bulldozing through additional night and weekend working’.
But for women’s safety campaigners the reopening of the Night Tube comes as a huge relief. Nearly 160,000 people have signed a petition launched in October to reinstate the Night Tube, after the murders of Londoners Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa this year provoked a national outcry about the very real dangers that women face being on the streets alone at night.
With CCTV, well-lit platforms and staff on hand, the tube is one of the safest and affordable ways for Londoners to travel at night. The Night Tube service, which began in August 2016, was stopped during the pandemic last year.
But today Londoners face a long trip home with their usual tube routes halted and Ubers too expensive to be a viable travel option for most people.
Commenting on the fare increases, a spokesperson for Uber said: ‘The Uber app uses dynamic pricing to make sure that people can get a car when they need it. When a large number of people in a specific area are booking a trip at the same time and there aren’t enough available cars, fares automatically rise to encourage more drivers to go to the busy area. Users will always see a fare estimate in advance.’
Uber is no stranger to controversy. In 2019 the taxi service lost its London licence following accusations of driver identity fraud. In February this year, the company unsuccessfully tried to appeal against a landmark decision that its drivers should be classified as workers, meaning they have the right to both the minimum wage and paid holidays.
And as recently as this October, Uber’s facial-recognition algorithm was accused of racial bias by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and some Uber drivers.