Uber Technologies Inc.’s license to operate in London will not be renewed, Transport for London announced Nov. 25. Transport for London, which regulates taxis and private-hire services in London, said safety concerns still surround Uber despite the company’s efforts to improve operations.
Uber has 21 days to appeal the decision, and it can continue to operate during that time. In addition, the BBC reported a decision on an appeal from a magistrates’ court could take weeks or months and the company could also keep operating during that time.
Probationary Status. The San Francisco-based human cloud, ride-sharing firm had been operating on a 15-month probationary license that was extended by two months in late September. It received the probationary license in June 2018 after Transport for London initially decided against issuing a new license.
In its Nov. 25th decision, Transport for London said several safety breaches prompted it to decline the renewal of Uber’s private operator’s license. One issue: Uber’s systems allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other drivers’ Uber accounts.
“This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips — putting passenger safety and security at risk,” according to Transport for London. “This means all the journeys were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their license revoked by Transport for London.”
Another problem cited by the agency: Dismissed or suspended drivers were still able to create Uber accounts and carry passengers.
While acknowledging Uber has put in place measures to prevent such activity, Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging at Transport for London, said, “It is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.”
Other breaches have occurred, including several insurance-related issues, Transport for London said. However, if Uber appeals, it will be able to argue its case to a magistrate that it has put in place sufficient safety measures, Chapman said.
Uber CEO Responds
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a tweet that Transport for London’s decision was wrong.
“We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be,” Khosrowshahi tweeted. “But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last two years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London. We have come very far — and we will keep going, for the millions of drivers and riders who rely on us.”
Calls for Dialog
Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry urged for dialog between the company and Transport for London to continue. “Uber’s popularity shows that customers value the service and choice that their innovative technologies offer,” CBI Chief UK Policy Director Matthew Fell said in a statement.
“Transport for London of course has to be confident around safety issues, so we’d encourage both sides to continue the dialogue to determine what changes are required in order that Uber’s customers can continue to enjoy the service in the long term,” Fell said.