Uber Loses Its License to Operate in London

Sep 22, 2017

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London is planning to end its ride with Uber for good. Transport for London (TfL), the governing body responsible for the transportation system in the city, announced on Friday that it will not issue the company a new private hire license. When Uber’s current license expires on September 30, it will not be renewed and Uber will be barred from operating within the city — a decision that Uber plans to challenge in court.

TfL said that the ride-sharing company “is not fit and proper” to hold a private hire operator license. When looking at the taxi and hire transportation regulations in London, TfL is most concerned with passenger safety. The agency requires taxi and for-hire companies like Uber to meet rigorous regulations, demonstrating to TfL that they’re able to hold themselves to those standards.

TfL said that it considers Uber’s approach and conduct to demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility, pointing to the number of issues that could have public safety and security implications. More specifically, TfL has cited Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offenses, how medical certificates are obtained, how disclosure and barring checks are obtained and how it used its Greyball service in the city.

Following the announcement by TfL on Friday, Uber responded by saying, “Transport for London and the mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.” The statement continued that the decision by TfL shows that “far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies.”

Uber now has 21 days to appeal TfL’s ruling. While the appeals process is underway, Uber will be able to continue to operate in the city. According to Uber, 3.5 million Londoners use the app as passengers and 40,000 people are registered as drivers in the city. Uber first began operations in London in 2012 and has faced little competition from other ride-sharing services like Lyft, Juno and Via — none of which operate within the city. However, other ride-share services, such as Gett, do have a presence in the city.

The ride-sharing company has had a scandal-filled year thus far in 2017. Beginning in January, the company faced public backlash as part of the #DeleteUber movement before reports of sexual harassment at the company’s headquarters surfaced in February. Senior-level employees began leaving the company in droves in March before CEO Travis Kalanick officially stepped down in June.

This is surely a setback for Uber, as London was one of the company’s largest markets outside of the US. If you’re traveling to London while the appeals process is underway, you’ll still be able to use the app within the city. But, there’s no telling how long that will last. If the license removal is held up in court, travelers should expect to use other forms of transportation, such as taxis and the public transportation system.

Featured image by Oli Scarff / Getty Images.

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