Uber loses licence to operate in London
Uber has lost its licence to operate private hire vehicles in London, after authorities discovered that more than 14,000 trips were taken with uninsured drivers.
Transport for London announced the decision not to renew the global ride-hailing firm’s licence at the end of a two-month probationary extension granted in September.
Uber was then told it needed to address issues with checks on drivers, insurance and safety, but has apparently failed to satisfy the capital’s transport authorities.
TfL said it had identified a “pattern of failures” by Uber, including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.
In a statement, it said: “Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.”
The decision is unlikely to see Uber cars disappear from London, as the firm is expected to appeal, and can continue to operate pending the outcome, provided it launches official proceedings within 21 days.
When TfL first rejected Uber’s licence renewal, in September 2017, the firm eventually persuaded judges to award it a 15-month licence to continue.
While TfL said Uber had since made positive improvements, reservations remained – including a change to Uber systems that allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other drivers’ accounts. This security lapse saw at least 14,000 trips where someone other than the booked driver picked up unwitting passengers, TfL said.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents black cab drivers, said: “It’s all about public safety and the Mayor has taken the right decision.
“As far as we’re concerned Uber’s business model is essentially unregulatable. It is based on everyone doing what they want and flooding London with vehicles. Uber cannot guarantee that the cars are properly insured, or that the person driving the car is the one that is supposed to be driving, as recent incidents show.”
However, unions warned that Uber drivers could bear the brunt of the decision. James Farrar of the IWGB union said it would “come as a hammer blow to its 50,000 drivers working under precarious conditions”, who would face unemployment while needing to meet car lease payments. Farrar said the IWGB was seeking an urgent meeting with Sadiq Kahn to discuss a mitigation plan to protect Uber drivers.