TfL have refused to renew Uber's license to operate in London
Since its conception in 2009, ride-sharing service Uber has repeatedly been embroiled in controversy. Not only have the upper managerial ranks been subject to allegations of corruption, but there have also been a staggering number of reported incidences of assault against passengers. And now, Transport for London has rejected Uber's application to renew its license to operate in the city of London.
TfL rejected the cab-hailing service's application on the grounds that it is not "fit and proper" to hold a private hire operator's license. In a statement issued by the local government body, they elaborated that "private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations" - something that the US-headquartered company has seemingly failed to do.
Stating that "Uber's approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility", TFL assert that the application has posed a great risk to "public safety" and "security" through its approach to dealing with the following:
"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) checked 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 licence that Uber currently hold expires on September 30. TFL have informed Uber that they have 21 days in which they can appeal the decision, and until the expiry date, the company can continue to operate as normal.
The taxi-hailing app has tens of thousands of drivers based in the UK, as well as a loyal customer base who rely on the service to get around London. However, the California-based company has come under intense scrutiny in recent years. Critics have claimed that Uber have consistently failed to protect their customers, and that their attitude to competition has been unfair.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) and the British general trade union GMB have ruled TFL's decision as a "historic victory". General Secretary of the LTDA Steve McNamara 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.”
And GMB's legal director Maria Ludkin added:
“No company can be behave like it's above the law, and that includes Uber. No doubt other major cities will be looking at this decision and considering Uber’s future on their own streets."
Responding to the decision, the general manager of Uber in London, Tom Elvidge, drew attention to the fact that TFL could potentially put over "40,000 licensed drivers out of work", in a move that would "astound" drivers and customers alike.
“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.”
More details to follow.