As anyone looking to properly understand London’s transport needs and network knows, context, background and best-practice are important. As readers might imagine, behind the scenes here at LR Towers we thus spend a lot of time sharing links and reading around the subjects we cover here.

We also occasionally share links containing good information about transport topics that we know we just don’t have time to cover. We also all, as authors, occasionally write elsewhere on this or tangentially related subjects.

This week’s reading list is below. If you’ve got something you feel we should read or include in a future list, don’t forget to email us at [email protected].

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There are 18 comments on this article
  1. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Another one for the reading list ….. it appears TfL have sneaked out their latest Travel in London Report very recently. It provides data updates across a wide range of measures for 2015/16 and also has some very initial stats and observations about the Night Tube operation.

    The accompanying data spreadsheets tend to follow on a couple of months later.

  2. @WW
    Thanks for this. Do let us know when the data spreadsheets are published.

  3. IslandDweller says:

    The Uber article is fascinating – shows how Uber is not helping in cities like London.
    But of the demographic who uses services like these (which is a small minority of the people who travel in London), there is a vast over representation of journalists / BBC presenters / politicians. Which means Uber continues to receive far more positive press than it really deserves.

  4. Man of Kent says:

    @Island Dweller
    Almost the same demographic that uses cycles disproportionately!

  5. quinlet says:

    Given its pricing level – especially if it is unprofitable, Uber must be highly unlikely to present a serious threat to public transport. On the other hand, if I was a black cab driver I would be very worried that Uber would put me out of business before it started to increase its own prices.

  6. Greg Tingey says:

    I can confirm Grabar’s observation that “Uber” is becoming as a generic reason to let transit fall apart. I am constantly told that Uber will make transit obsolete. As Grabar notes, some of this is just easy rhetoric for people who dislike transit for cultural reasons, or who oppose public investment of any kind.
    Yeah – someone noticed.

  7. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Quinlet – I expect that precisely that fear is what is trying the level of resentment of City Hall and TfL from those in the taxi trade. Accepting that social media comment is not exactly objective or necessarily balanced there is some pretty vicious commentary about City Hall politicians and senior TfL people in terms of their probity, fitness for office and general competence. There is also some “conspiracy theory” thinking that would make a good plot for an episode of the X Files. As we have discussed here before there are undoubtedly changes going on in the transport market and with technology that are proving difficult for the black cab trade. There is also what is happening with Uber (and others) in the States where regulations differ and where there is far less political support for traditional transit.

    Having skimmed bits of the new Travel in London report TfL is detecting some changes in terms of trip rates on its network and with certain age groups. This reflects the increasing use of online services and fewer trips to shops and other facilities in consequence. I don’t think Uber could put TfL’s bus network out of business quickly. I do, though, think it could damage patronage in some parts of the network (e.g night buses and in some better off outer areas). I also think they could have severe impacts elsewhere in the UK where some bus networks are on “life support”. It won’t take much to kill them off permanently for as long as Uber has access to vast investor resources. And if it isn’t Uber it will be someone like Google with their self driving cars offering some form of paratransit type service. As we know once bus routes have gone they don’t come back but people’s need for mobility doesn’t go.

  8. Anonymous says:


    Is the minority really that small? Demographics and all, but all the friends I know in London use Uber to some degree of frequency

  9. IslandDweller says:

    Using the link provided by WW in post 1, the chart on page 34 says only 1% of journeys in London last year were taxi. (I’m assuming this is taxi and private hire, and therefore includes Uber, as there isn’t a separate heading for PHV). In comparison, 2% of journeys were by cycle.
    As we know, the single sample is a poor guide. I offer my own anecdote in counter to yours, and point out that (although some of my friends are very comfortably off), I only know one friend with an uber account, and he uses it in unfamiliar cities rather than London.

  10. Greg Tingey says:

    Anonymous & ID
    Neither I, nor “the boss” who works in EC2, nor anyone in her large financial offices will use Uber.
    They know, as I do now: the let’s face it, fraudulent tax & non-“employment” model that underpins Uber. [ And is illustrated by political statements from one of the men behind it, Kalanick – warning – do not go there in this discussion, as it’s highly inflammatory material ]
    This is not transport, it’s politics in the form of a “race to the bottom” in terms of wages, employment conditions & exploitation … also all well-documented elsewhere.

    But, since it’s politics having an effect upon transport, it is (just) a legitimate subject for discussion here, but I urge caution, nonetheless.

    In fact, I would suggest a separate article on Uber, if anyone has the time & resources to write one (!)

  11. Malcolm says:

    Writing as moderator: Greg has it spot on here. The issue of whether Uber is bad and nasty, or not, will not be discussed here. But we were discussing, quite appropriately, Uber’s market share, and a particular group’s perception of bad-and-nastiness is perfectly relevant.

    Except that, ideally, Greg would have said “allegedly fraudulent” rather than “fraudulent”.

  12. Briantist says:

    Just wanted to pop by and say “Happy New Year” to everyone.

    I’m not sure this got into the reading list, but it is very interesting.

    Wifi Data Trial – Understanding London Underground Customer Journeys []

  13. Zed says:

    If my phone runs out of battery, or I just don’t want to bring it out that day (which happens!) then Uber is unavailable to me.

    I have lived in London for 10 years and used taxis fewer than 10 times. The majority of uses were black cabs for moving house. None of the drivers had a problem with helping me to load 100kg of my possessions into the cab. I doubt Uber drivers would have been so willing.

    Once the Piccadilly line suffered a fault and I had 15 minutes to get from Hammersmith to Heathrow. The black cab driver made it.

    The remaining uses were local minicabs around West Harrow. I did look into Uber but there are so few drivers anywhere apart from Zone 1 and the main suburban centres, so it didn’t work out either.

    Other than that, I’ve never been able to justify the cost of a taxi when I also have a car.

  14. timbeau says:

    Uber did save having to wait an hour for “Dad’s taxi” on Saturday night, when there were no night buses or any other transport. And it was paid for using the account of the person paying expenses, without any need to submit receipts and claim it back.

    But the circumstances were somewhat unusual.

  15. quinlet says:

    I think the issue is that, at one point buses and taxis were seen as quite different and distinct modes of transport, with car driving (and car hire) also as distinct and different modes. Today those distinctions are becoming blurred and the development of IT technology, car sharing and, eventually, automation will accentuate that blurring. Mixed mode journeys now include public transport and Uber/car sharing and it is interesting to see how the night tube as altered the use of Uber with shifts away from using Uber from central London to a suburban destination to using night tube then Uber for the ‘last mile’. This is a trend which will not easily (if at all) be reversed. Perhaps we should embrace and manage it rather than trying to ignore it.

  16. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Quinlet – I think the black cab trade would say far too much “embracing” of Uber has occurred. I don’t really have any time for taxis, minicabs or emerging services like Uber. They are hugely expensive for me and I am perfectly capable of getting anywhere in Greater London using public transport. I accept they fulfill a need for other people but I’ve never viewed them as part of “public transport” largely because their cost is out of proportion to other modes. I accept I am “out of step” here but there we are. I rather feel that “managing” Uber is proving very difficult because the legislation is out of step with reality and there’s no willingness on the part of government to cater for TfL’s concerns. I’m therefore not certain how you manage or embrace Uber (and similar) when you don’t have the tools to do it or where an “embrace” may bring about your destruction (or at least harm) as well as severe criticism for other parts of the transport market. It’s not exactly an evenly balanced scenario given the “politics” as mentioned by Greg.

  17. Greg Tingey says:

    What should not be embraced is the political/social side of Uber, resulting in the underpayment & exploitation of its workers – as is currently under discussion in the Courts, in fact.

  18. And as a general point for LR, what should not be discussed here is the political/social side of Uber, or the alleged underpayment & exploitation of its workers, as off topic.

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