Rare post from me, but this is close to my heart, being a long term (South) London resident. So... fuck the black cabs, really, they are truly shit in comparison to Uber. It's not just the card payment issue, it's the attitude you get from most of the drivers. They're not really interested in providing a cab service for London. They want to take bankers and tourists on short journeys around central London, and drive people to the airport and back. It can be difficult to find a black cab that will take you any distance "south of the river", so much so, it's even a cultural catch phrase here "Sorry gov, I ain't going south of the river".
Then, even when you get one, they really do cost. An Uber from central London to my place is about half the cost of a black cab. They're also not that comfortable a ride. Bumpy and cold usually. The only plus point is that they do take 5 passengers as standard, so there is that, minor, minor point....
Now, due to the black cabs being over priced, and really a bit shit, in true British fashion, rather than face actually making some kind of meaningful change to the system, a fudge has been added. Something called a "mini cab", or more accurately a "private hire vehicle". This is a just a car, no taxi meter, that you can hire to take you from A to B for a fixed price, but you can't hail it on the street, you have to call for one, or go to a pick up location. These vary wildly, from a professional, almost Uber like service such as Addison Lee, mentioned in a previous post, to a banged up, probably non street legal piece of crap driven by someone who looks like they've been awake 72 hours. Often they tout for business on the street (illegally) and, factoring in how late it is/cold the weather/drunk you are, a price is agreed... then often later disputed.
Anyway, mini cabs are licenced to operate as they do, although there are some totally illegal ones running around. The point is, black cabs never really served their purpose, so the mini cab system just kind of evolved into the cracks. It's the only type of cab most Londoners would have ever considered using.
Now we have Uber. Clean new cars, professional drivers, cheap, payments sorted in advance, phone app, the works. It's heaven. Actually, I find it interesting, all the US commenters on here talking about Uber being less professional, and operating illegally. The situation is totally different here. It is a superior cab ride in every way, and they are licenced private hire vehicles, so it's all legal. The black cab industry is trying to say that the Uber app on the drivers phone is effectively a taxi meter, and allows what is effectively street hailing, not sure how that is going, is there a court case?
Anyway, just wanted to get it off my chest. I will be so fucked off if a great service is killed, simply to protect a highly dysfunctional industry that has previously felt no pressure at all to improve their level of customer service. We all hate them anyway. This is an almost perfect "buggy whip manufacturer" situation, please let the black cab just die.
p.s. I did see a protest by black cab drivers, about Uber, in central London recently, trying in vain to whip up some public support... they're delusional.