Uber drivers have been barred from parking in villages near Heathrow as part of measures to tackle congestion and clear the way for a third runway.
Sophisticated “geo-fencing” technology has been employed to prevent drivers picking up fares while parked a few miles outside the airport perimeter.
A new minicab rank with space for up to 800 vehicles will also be created just north of the airport.
The crackdown came as a range of proposals were outlined to soften opposition to Heathrow expansion, including a ban on flights between 11pm and 5.30am and a commitment not to build a fourth runway.
There are also plans for a new penalty charge – possibly up to £10 – for all polluting vehicles being driven to the airport to improve air quality.
Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, quoted by the Times, said Uber and other minicab companies had “expanded phenomenally” and had “started to cause a real issue in our local communities”.
“We have had Uber drivers parking in people’s driveways, leaving their rubbish in their gardens and causing a huge amount of local distress because they are trying to get as close as possible to the airport to pick up a ride,” he said.
Uber lets customers hail a car by smartphone which then links them to drivers nearby. The San Francisco-based firm has expanded hugely in the UK and now operates in more than 20 towns and cities, with around 25,000 registered drivers in London alone.
Holland-Kaye said that Uber had agreed to install geo-fencing – which blocks mobile phone signals – specifically preventing anyone parked in villages near the airport accessing a customer request made from within Heathrow itself.
“We don’t control the private hire vehicles, but I feel we have a responsibility to local communities to do right by them,” he said.
Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, said: “Uber is a really popular choice for passengers who want to travel safely and affordably to and from Heathrow. Back in January we stopped booking requests going to any Uber partner-drivers parked in residential streets around Heathrow.”
Heathrow’s new proposals come two months before the government is expected to rule on airport expansion in the southeast of England.
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