TfL strips Uber of its licence to operate in London

25 November 2019, 10:03 | Updated: 25 November 2019, 13:37

Sylvia De Luca

By Sylvia De Luca

Uber has not been granted a new licence to operate in London after "several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk" were identified, Transport for London said.

At least 14,000 trips were made with drivers who were not the ones shown on the app.

The ride-hailing app firm's existing licence expires at 11.59pm today. It will be allowed to continue to operate pending an appeal.

TfL has said the taxi app was not "fit and proper" as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations.

TfL's director of licensing, regulation and charging Helen Chapman said: "As the regulator of private hire services in London we are required to make a decision today on whether Uber is fit and proper to hold a licence.

Uber was waiting to find out if it would be granted another full five-year licence.
Uber was waiting to find out if it would be granted another full five-year licence. Picture: PA

"Safety is our absolute top priority. 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.

"It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won't happen again in future."

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Uber's regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe Jamie Heywood said: "TfL's decision not to renew Uber's licence in London is extraordinary and wrong, and we will appeal.

"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.

"On behalf of the 3.5 million riders and 45,000 licensed drivers who depend on Uber in London, we will continue to operate as normal and will do everything we can to work with TfL to resolve this situation."

Uber was granted a 15-month licence by a judge in June 2018 after it appealed against a TfL decision not to renew its licence over safety and security concerns.

In September safety and security issues caused the firm to have its right to operate in London extended for just two months - the shortest licence of its kind ever issued by TfL.

Uber was told it had to meet "new conditions to ensure passenger safety" as part of its temporary licence.

The Uber app is used to find nearby cars
The Uber app is used to find nearby cars. Picture: Getty

These included: the company's approach to reporting serious criminal offences, how drivers' medical certificates were obtained, how criminal record checks were carried out and its use of technology which allegedly helped it evade law enforcement officials.

Uber is an American multinational ridesharing company that also offers food delivery services through Uber Eats. There are around 45,000 Uber drivers in London.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “I support the decision by TfL’s licensing officials today in relation to Uber and completely understand why the decision was taken.

"Keeping Londoners safe is my absolute number-one priority, and TfL have identified a pattern of failure by Uber that has directly put passengers’ safety at risk.

“There is undoubtedly a place for innovative companies in London - in fact we are home to some of the best in the world. But it is essential that companies play by the rules to keep their customers safe.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Picture: PA

“Only in the last few months it has been established that 14,000 Uber journeys have involved fraudulent drivers uploading their photos to other driver accounts – with passengers’ safety potentially put at risk getting into cars with unlicensed and suspended drivers.

"At this stage TfL can’t be confident that Uber has the robust processes in place to prevent another serious safety breach in the future.

"I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe, and fully complying with TfL’s strict standards is essential if private hire operators want a licence to operate in London.”

Uber now has 21 days to appeal, during which it can continue to operate pending any appeal.

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