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TfL blocks Uber London licence renewal

Date: 22 September 2017   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Transport for London (TfL) has announced it will not be renewing minicab alternative Uber's private hire licence after it expires on 30 September.

TfL concluded after an investigation that Uber "is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence".

According to TfL, Uber's approach and conduct "demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications".

These include:

  • 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) checks are obtained
  • Its approach to explaining the use in London of Greyball, 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.

Shortly after TfL announced its decision, Uber confirmed it would contest the ruling in court.

"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," Tom Elvidge, the firm's general manager for London, said. "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."

He added: "We have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents and have a dedicated team who work closely with the Metropolitan Police."

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service." 

Khan added: "However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect - particularly when it comes to the safety of customers.  Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security. I fully support TfL's decision -  it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners' safety and security. Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules."

London Assembly member Andrew Boff said: "This is a hugely damaging decision by Sadiq Khan that will effectively put 40,000 people out of work at the click of a finger.
"The mayor consistently tells us London is open but in shutting down the operations of an innovative market leader like Uber he has caused immense reputational damage to our city as a global business hub.
"With 3.5 million registered users ? almost half the city's adult population - Uber has shown to be providing a hugely beneficial service to Londoners.
"Sadiq Khan has ignored their needs and instead believed the smears and propaganda propagated by Uber's rivals."