Uber drivers using bottles in lieu of London loos
THE streets of London are no longer paved with gold but littered with bottles of discarded urine - and Uber cab drivers are getting the blame.
New kids on the mini-cab block Uber, launched in London in July 2012, are proving hard taskmasters with market pressures - and the desire to boost shift incomes - apparently leading some drivers to choose between a toilet break and the next paying fare.
CLOSER TO HOME
For the drivers this means drastic measures, with many resorting to urinating into plastic bottles later discarded on the capital's streets.
The claims come from a several Uber customers who have shared their stories on Twitter. Stephen Hough tweeted: "'I really want to pee', says my taxi driver. 'Oh dear. There's a Starbucks there.' 'It's Ok. I have a bottle', he says pointing to the floor." His experience prompted other Uber users to share similar stories.
The issue is also a hot topic on Uber driver message boards, both in Britain and the US, with much discussion about the most appropriate size of bottle or jug.
"Working London there is no where to pull up without getting a ticket," one driver complained. "Ohio law requires gas stations to have restrooms, but not a single one in Cleveland complies," responded another.
For all cabbies working in London, finding the few remaining public conveniences is a time-consuming problem.
The famous "green hut" rest stops, run by the Cabmen's Shelter Fund, were once dotted around London and provided cabbies with a place to take relieve themselves - but have dwindled to just 13.
And Uber's reported policy of a guaranteed hourly rate for drivers if they accept 90 per cent of ride requests, and stay online for 50 out of 60 minutes, means spending a penny can prove even more expensive.
An Uber spokesman denied drivers were being forced to miss out on comfort breaks and claimed the littering could be the fault of any cab driver.
He said: "We don't think it's an Uber issue. It's certainly up to drivers when they drive and when they don't. They are self-employed. All we do is connect them to rides.
"There is no reason for them to feel they can't stop."