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Want to ride Uber in London? Better do it this week!

September 25, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

In a shock decision, London’s transport authorities have moved to strip Uber, the ride-share app taxi service, of its operating licence from this Saturday.

A licence is needed to operate as a taxi in London. Uber was issued a four-month temporary licence in May.

Transport for London (TfL) has now concluded that Uber is “not fit and proper” to operate in Britain’s capital due to concerns over public safety and security implications.

Uber says it will appeal the decision.

London is reported to have 40,000 Uber drivers and taxis operating under the Uber name. What will happen to them is unclear. A petition started by Uber, to urge Transport for London (TfL) to reverse its decision, had been signed by more than 500,000 people by last night.

TfL’s move is reported to reflect concerns over Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and how it carries out background checks on its drivers.

A ban in such a major city may have a flow-on effect elsewhere.

Here are three statements on the matter, from TfL, London’s Mayor and Uber.

TfL’s full statement read:

Transport for London (TfL) has today (Friday 22 September) informed Uber London Limited that it will not be issued with a private hire operator licence after expiry of its current licence on 30 September.

TfL’s regulation of London’s taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence.

TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.

TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. These include:

  • Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
  • Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained.
  • Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.
  • Its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London – software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.

The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 includes provision to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days of it being communicated to the applicant. Uber London Limited can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted.

No further comment will be made by TfL pending any appeal of this decision.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement reported by The Independent:

“I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.

“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.

“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.

“Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules.”

Uber issued a statement, reported by Mashable:

“3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, 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.”

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    I’m a regular Uber user but can understand the decision in London. They actually have a wonderful tube system and cab drivers who know where they’re going and who turn up on time, something we certainly don’t have in Sydney.

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