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Transport for London denies Uber license renewal

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TfL finds the company “not fit and proper” to operate on the city’s streets, adding that Uber’s policies could have “public safety and security implications”.

In a shock move, Transport for London has denied Uber’s request for a new license. TfL finds the company “not fit and proper” to operate on the city’s streets, adding that Uber’s policies could have “public safety and security implications”.

 

TfL has taken issue with Uber’s approach to reporting criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and its use of the “Greyball” software which helps the company to evade authorities.

 

As of September 30th, when Uber’s current license expires, 40,000 drivers will be out of work unless the decision is appealed in the next 21 days. Uber says it will immediately challenge this in the courts as it follows all TfL’s rules of operation. With an appeal underway Uber can continue its London service until a final decision is handed down.

 

London mayor 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.”

 

Uber’s General Manager, Tom Elvidge argues, “3.5 million people use our app and more than 40,000 licensed drivers will be astounded by this decision. 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. Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced DBS background checks as black cab drivers. Our pioneering technology has gone further to enhance safety with every trip tracked and recorded by GPS.”

 

“We have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents and have a dedicated team who work closely with the Metropolitan Police. As we have already told TfL, an independent review has found that ‘Greyball’ has never been used or considered in the UK for the purposes cited by TfL. Uber operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities here in the UK. This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers.”

 

The TfL shutdown only adds to the trials Uber has dealt with in recent times, including division among the ranks and company culture clashes. In February alone, Uber faced allegations of sexual harassment and stealing trade secrets from none other than tech giant Google.

 

More controversy followed in April when British MP’s attacked Uber, saying their contracts are “gibberish”, after Uber appealed a UK tribunal’s decision that their drivers are entitled to basic employment rights. It did not stop there, as the European Court ruled that as a transport provider and not a technology firm, Uber should abide by stricter rules.

 

Investigations later revealed more reports of sexual harassment and misconduct resulting in the firing of 20 employees and the Asia Business Chief after evidence emerged that a driver in India had raped an Uber user back in 2014, two years after the company launched. Uber has since settled with the woman.

 

Steve McNamara, the head of the LTDA, said: “Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers. We expect Uber will again embark on a spurious legal challenge against the Mayor and TfL, and we will urge the court to uphold this decision. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets.”

Esha Young

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