In brief: Ride-hailing giant Uber has lost the right to operate in London after the city’s transport regulator refused to grant it a new license.
Back in 2017, Transport for London(TfL) rejected Uber’s renewal application because it was not “fit and proper” to hold a private operator license. Some of the issues the agency noted included how Uber obtains Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (BSD) checks for its drivers, the way it reports serious criminal offenses, the Greyball scandal, and its approach to obtaining drivers’ medical certificates.
In June 2018, Uber won its appeal to continue operating in England’s capital, though it was only probationary, with the license required renewing every 15 months. After that ran out in September the company was granted a two-month extension.
Now, TfL says it has identified a “pattern of failures” that placed Uber passengers’ safety and security at risk, meaning the regulator cannot renew the license.
“Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time,” wrote TfL.
One of the key issues identified was a change to Uber’s system that allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts, which let them pick up passengers as if they were the booked driver; this occurred in at least 14,000 trips. All the journeys were uninsured, and in some cases the drivers did not hold private hire licenses.
Uber has 45,000 licensed drivers and 3.5 million passengers in London, making it one of the company’s top five markets. The firm now has 21 days to appeal, and it can continue operating during the appeal process.
“TfL’s decision not to renew Uber’s licence in London is extraordinary and wrong,” says Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern & Eastern Europe. “We have fundamentally changed our business over the last two years and are setting the standard on safety. TfL found us to be a fit and proper operator just two months ago, and we continue to go above and beyond.”