Cab drivers protested Uber in London on June 11, creating massive traffic issues in the city.
Uber is free to put its pedal to the metal in London.
UK regulators have declared that the San Francisco-based ridesharing startup is indeed operating legally in the city, says Time, clearing the way for Uber to operate openly in the British capital.
The decision was came Thursday from Transport for London (TfL), the city's transportation regulator. The debate centered on taxi meters, which are only allowed in London's black cabs.
Cab drivers argued that Uber's smartphone app was serving as a taxi meter. The TfL decided otherwise.
The TfL decision is not final, however. A British court will determine whether or not Uber's app is the equivalent of a taxi meter later this year, but that won't stop Uber from operating in the meantime. Uber did not immediately respond to Mashable's request for comment.
The news from London comes after cab drivers sparked major protests against ridesharing apps like Uber in multiple major European cities last month, including London.
Cab drivers argue that Uber is playing unfairlyCab drivers argue that Uber is playing unfairly; while cab drivers are forced to pay certain taxes and buy medallions, just like taxi drivers in the U.S., Uber drivers aren't required to do the same.
The protests received significant attention, and also caused major traffic jams in some of the region's largest metropolitan cities (like London). Earlier this year, a protest in Paris turned violent when protestors attacked a dozen Uber cars, bashing in windows and slashing tires.
Europe isn't the only region fighting against the ridesharing industry. In Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission issued cease-and-desist orders to both Uber and Lyft on Tuesday in an attempt to shut down the services until drivers have proper registration with the state.
Pennsylvania passenger service vehicles are required to obtain Certificates of Public Convenience, which neither startup has. A Lyft spokesperson confirmed that the company has applied for the certificates, but the application is still pending with no timetable.
A Lyft spokesperson offered the following statement:
The PUC's decision will make it harder for the people of Pittsburgh to access safe, affordable and modern transportation options. The city’s residents enthusiastically welcomed Lyft’s arrival in February; passengers have come to rely on Lyft for community-powered rides, and Lyft drivers enjoy the economic opportunity that it provides. We remain committed to finding a path forward for ridesharing in Pennsylvania and are working with elected officials to ensure that consumers continue to have access to peer-to-peer transportation.
Uber has had trouble with state-specific medallions and requirements before. When California legalized ridesharing in September, for example, it created a new set of rules specific to ridehsaring drivers, including the need to register for a special license with the California Public Utilities Commission.
Still, all this red tape doesn't appear to be slowing down the ridesharing apps at all. Lyft is in 66 U.S. cities (including Pittsburgh), and Uber is Uber is in 78 U.S. cities, and 39 countries in total. Uber also has a whopping $17 billion valuation.
While state and federal governments are fighting against Uber and Lyft, the two San Francisco companies are also fighting one another for market share. Lyft has offered rides at a 20 to 30% discount for months now, meaning the company isn't actually taking money from each transaction (the driver's cut remains the same).
Uber is doing something similar. The company announced a 25% discount on rides in the Bay Area at the beginning of the month, and now loses money on each UberX transaction, according to Forbes.
That's not a lucrative business model in the short term. But it should increase the companies' user bases — making them increasingly hard for regulators to stop. The need for legality is trumping the need for revenue at the moment.
For Uber and Lyft, it's simply a case of driving around the obstacles, one roadblock at a time.
Tags: APPS, APPS AND SOFTWARE, BUSINESS, LONDON, LYFT, PROTESTS, RIDESHARING, STARTUPS, TAXIS, UBER