'Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe'
Taxi app Uber has once again lost its license today as a result of several ongoing safety issues.
TfL has cited a ‘pattern of failures’ being behind the decision, including the fact that unauthorised drivers are able to upload their photographs to other driver accounts. According to the BBC, the regulator has said that at least 14,000 trips late 2018 to early 2019 were fraudulent.
‘While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured,’ TfL’s Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, Helen Chapman said.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe.’
Meanwhile Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi wrote on Twitter: ‘We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last 2 years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London. We have come very far – and we will keep going, for the millions of drivers and riders who rely on us.’
Unless a court decides otherwise, Uber will still be allowed to operate while they appeal the decision with magistrates, a process that could take weeks or months.
Around 45,000 drivers currently work for Uber in the capital.
The company initially lost its license back in 2017, but were granted temporary license following a successful appeal. The ride sharing app first had its licence revoked after TfL deemed that it was not doing enough to ensure ‘passenger safety’ and was not ‘fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence’.
TfL’s previous decision not to renew their licence boiled down to their approach to ‘passenger safety’, which they said has demonstrated ‘a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications’.
They specifically pinpointed the methods by which Uber reports ‘serious criminal offences’, obtains medical certificates as well as their dealings with the Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service – a government body which prevents ‘unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children’ according to their website. According to The Times, Uber has investigated more than 2,500 of its London drivers for cases related to sexual assault, stalking and dangerous driving.
Uber was also slammed for their use of Greyball – technology that essentially blocks the British government from accessing the full breadth of their data and app, which prevents them from ‘undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties’.
After appealing the decision at Westminster, Uber was told that their licence would be renewed – but only for a probationary fifteen months to begin with. While Uber initially wanted the licence to be renewed for five years, it accepted the decision and said during the hearing that they had ‘made far-reaching changes to address [their past mistakes]’.
In addition to the ruling, it was deemed that Uber would also have to cover TfL’s court costs which amount to £425,000.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said of the decision on Twitter, ‘Uber remains strictly on probation, and @TfL will monitor it closely. No matter how big or powerful you are, you must play by the rules.’
Tom Elvidge, General Manager of Uber in the UK, told Marie Claire, ‘We are pleased with today’s decision. We will continue to work with TfL to address their concerns and earn their trust, while providing the best possible service for our customers.’
Uber had a rocky start in the UK and particularly in London, where many black cab drivers protested its arrival – most notably back in February 2016 when roughly 8,000 drivers parked their vehicles and blocked Whitehall, Westminster and West End roads for hours.
They have also been scrutinised globally for other major issues such as background checks for their drivers as well as passenger safety – they faced Indian court after a woman raped by her Uber driver sued them for allegedly obtaining her medical records to colour her claims.