Heathrow crackdown on Uber drivers

Heathrow crackdown on Uber drivers

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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