London Chefs Trade Curry for Cabs, San Francisco Drivers Go Bankrupt, a Medallion Owner Sues, and More Tales From the Global Uber Wars

The great taxi industry upheaval.


Oli Khan, the owner of the the popular U.K. Spice Rouge restaurant (and past winner of England's National Curry Chef of the Year prize) says it's harder than ever to attract talented cooks to work in his kitchen because of Uber. In a fascinating FT.com look at the British curry trade in crisis, Khan tells reporter Malcolm Moore:

"A lot of people in London have joined Uber?.?.?.?including chefs, tandoori chefs, waiters, managers — even the owners of restaurants….We do not have the profits we used to and now a lot of people value the freedom of that life…In a cab company you just go there and drive the car." (H/T Benedict Evans' newsletter)

Other recent highlights from the great taxicab upheaval:

  • Yellow Cab Co-Op, the largest taxi operator in San Francisco, announced last week that it's filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Uber and Lyft aren't the only factors; a recent injury lawsuit cost Yellow Cab $8 million. "Uber's reign of terror continues in San Francisco," notes The New Republic, meaning these days residents can actually get a light-night ride in the Bay-Area city.
  • The California Public Utilities Commisison just upheld a judge's ruling that Uber pay $7.6 million for failing to meet its reporting requirements in 2014. As the Los Angeles Times notes, the fine "underscores the regulatory and competitive conflict Uber's business model repeatedly faces accross the globe."
  •  The United Spinal Association sent a letter to New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission accusing it of "acquiescing to a multi-billion-dollar company" by failing to require that Uber cars be wheelchair accessible. The company, which has been sued twice by the group, says its smartphone app makes it easier for disabled customers to order wheelchair-equipped medallioned cabs.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that the $2 million traffic study that caused such an uproar last year will reveal that Uber hasn't made congestion significantly worse in Manhattan after all. Meanwhile, the New York City Council is readying legislation to regulate e-hail services. Details are scant, but the law may require that Uber accommodate wheelchaired passengers, and there's talk of limiting the company's use of surge pricing.
  • "Uber destroyed me," Philly cab driver Boris Kautsky told the regional outlet Newsworks. Kautsky is suing the San Francisco-based company in federal court for knocking down the value of his medallion from half a million to somewhere in the five figures. "It was going to be my back up for my Social Security check," the driver complained.

For more on the mayhem wrought by e-hailing services, watch "Uber and the Great Taxicab Collapse:"