Uber has had its license to operate in London revoked. Transport for London (TfL), which operates public transport in the capital, has made the decision not to renew the app-based taxi’s license in the city.
Officials have deemed the company is not ‘fit and proper’ to operate in the capital. The decision will be welcomed by a number of campaign groups, which have criticised Uber for increasing congestion levels on the streets of London. There have also been instances of reported violent or aggressive behaviour by drivers.
According to the TfL regulatory board, the ‘approach and conduct’ of Uber showed a lack of corporate responsibility, which could have resulted in public safety and security issues. It also raised concerns with the company’s ‘approach to explaining the use of Greyball, software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app.’
There are currently 40,000 Uber drivers in London, serving around 3.5 million customers. The ruling was handed out by TfL regulators, and allows Uber 21 days to appeal the decision.
The company has said it will do so. Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, said: “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.
“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. 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 license was renewed in May, but for a period of only five months. It will run out on 30th September, though the company will be allowed to continue to operate during the appeal process.
The decision has the backing of London mayor, who has said that he “fully” backs the decision. He said: “Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.”
The company has faced a number of issues with regulators, in particular with questions over whether its drivers counted as full employees or as contractors, but this decision is likely to represent a major blow for the company.