Uber London loses licence to operate

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Uber will not be issued a new private hire licence, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

TfL concluded the ride-hailing app firm was not fit and proper to hold a London private hire operator licence.

It said it took the decision on the grounds of “public safety and security implications”.

Confirming it would appeal against the decision, Uber said it showed the world “far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.

TfL’s concerns include Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences.

Uber’s current licence is due to run until 30 September.

It has 21 days to appeal against TfL’s decision and can continue to operate while any appeals are ongoing.

Some 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers use the Uber app in London.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”

Fred Jones, head of cities for Uber across the UK and Ireland, told the BBC Uber drivers had to pass the same safety checks as black cab and mini cab drivers in London.

There had been growing speculation that the app could be banned from London.

Opponents of the firm claim it causes gridlocked roads and does not do enough to regulate its drivers.

But one driver with Uber in London said: “I don’t think it is a fair decision. Uber offers a flexible schedule, and a weekly income.”

Uber controversies

  • Chief executive Travis Kalanick, who helped found the company in 2009, resigned in July following a series of scandals and criticism of his management style
  • In June, 20 staff were sacked after a law firm investigated specific complaints made to the company about sexual harassment, bullying, and retaliation for reporting problems
  • At the start of 2017, the firm paid £16.2m ($20m) in the US to settle allegations it gave false promises to drivers over how much they would earn
  • In October 2016 Uber lost a landmark employment tribunal in the UK which ruled drivers should be classed as workers rather than being self-employed
  • A few months later Uber announced it would offer English courses, financial advice and introduce an appeals panel for its UK workers after facing criticism over lack of support and rights for its drivers
  • In 2014 the New Delhi government banned app-based taxi companies after an Uber driver raped a passenger in his vehicle
  • Uber stopped operating in Austin, Texas, when it was told drivers would have to have fingerprint background checks, but it reinstated its services after the requirement was ended

Uber’s general manager in London Tom Elvidge said: “By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and the mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.

“If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.

“To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”

He said Uber operated in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities in the UK.

 

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