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22 September 2017

Night bus or black cab – what will save stranded Londoners post-Uber?

Journeys compared. 

By Jason Murugesu

Transport for London announced that Uber will not be issued a private hire operator licence after its current licence expires in a week’s time on Saturday 30 September. 

The news of Uber’s possible impending doom in London has spread like wildfire on social media. Some have applauded Mayor Sadiq Khan’s bravery for standing up to a corporation that has taken pride in breaking the government’s rules. Others are worried about the prospect of 40,000 Uber drivers losing their jobs. Some say the ruling unfairly restricts technological innovation and black cabs belong to the last century.

Ideological debate aside, for one of The New Statesman’s resident Londoners, this is simply a practical question. If I’ve just had a few drinks with some friends by St Pauls on a Friday night (where our offices are), and I need to get back to my home in the South London neighbourhood of Peckham, as yet unconnected to the tube, how will I get there? 

Night bus

Before Uber, there was the night bus. From St Pauls, the quickest night bus to Peckham Rye is the N343. The only issue? The 24 minute walk to Borough Station beforehand. At which point the weary reveller hopes they haven’t just missed one, because the N343 comes by only every half an hour. 

Night bus dissenters may argue that instead of walking so far, you could take the N21 to Old Kent Road, and then take the N63. This is true, but as any night pro knows, you should always avoid two bus journeys. The risk of sleeping on one, and missing your stop, can prolong your journey no-end. Also, who wants to leave the relative warmth of one bus to wait in the cold and dark for the next one? Better to just get all the walking out the way first. 

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COST: £1.50 (for one bus or two, thanks to Sadiq Khan’s Hopper fare)
TIME TAKEN TO GET HOME: 45 minutes to an hour. 
COMFORT: What’s worse than falling asleep on a night-bus? The fear of falling asleep on a night-bus. Trust no one!

Addison Lee

If, during the long walk to Borough, you realise you have outgrown the night bus, there is Addison Lee. While drunkenly/sleepily trying to Google a number will be an effort (download the app, idiot), once you’ve managed to convey across the phone in a slurred manner where you are, you can expect be in a wonderful warm car in fewer than 20 minutes. 

COST: £20 
TIME TAKEN TO GET HOME: 25 minutes (not including time spent Googling and waiting for the car)
COMFORT: A standard car from Addison Lee is quote “Spacious and convenient. Typically a Ford Galaxy or Toyota Prius Plus. Free Wifi and phone chargers included”. Addison Lee is the past and future!

Black cab

Too drunk to Google. Too drunk to phone. You see something resembling four wheels and furiously wave it down. Black cabs aren’t cost-effective you say? I just spent £6 on a pint of ale that I had to pretend to like so that people at work think I’m like them. 

COST: £30
25 minutes
COMFORT: The driver knows exactly where to drop you off. He’s a human Sat Nav.

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