Uber London ban: App loses licence to operate in capital
When Transport for London’s decided to scrap Uber’s operating licence, a conflict arose between unions, politicians & rival services on one side – who celebrate the decision as a historic victory – & Uber, who condemned TFL’s announcement as a sign of London’s inability to deal with a state-of-the-art business.
The transport authority has determined Uber to be unfit & proper to hold a private hire operator licence, saying that the company’s approach & conduct “demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety & security implications”.
Uber were quick to criticise London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who they see as a man who had “caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” as stated by Tom Elvidge, general manager of the London branch of Uber.
Whilst TFL mentioned it’s concerns towards Uber’s approach in reporting serious criminal offences, Mr Elvidge insisted that Uber drivers are not only licensed by TFL, with the same background checks as black cab drivers, but that the company have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents, working closely with the Metropolitan Police.
Sadiq Khan, however, only spoke highly of the decision to revoke Uber’s license.
“All companies in London must play by the rules & adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers… It would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety & security.
“Uber has not shown itself to be a fit & proper operator. It stands accused by the police of failing to properly handle serious allegations of rape & sexual assault of passengers. It had to be dragged through the courts to recognise its responsibility to provide even the most basic rights & protections to Uber drivers,” he said.
Up to 3.5 million people use Uber in London, & Mr Elvidge believes the decision would “deprive Londoners of a convenient & affordable form of transport”, as well as potentially put out 40,000 licensed drivers out of work. Within hours of the decision, Uber had launched an online petition challenging it & emailed users asking them to support it, gaining over a quarter of a million virtual signatures within a few days.
Uber has recently come under pressure in the UK, with critics claiming that the privately-owned company has an unfair advantage over competition, nor does it do enough to eradicate cases of violence involving drivers.
A private hire operating rival, Mytaxi, were satisfied with Uber’s grievances. “We believe that Uber’s business model is based on pumping large amounts of private equity money into maintaining artificially low prices to drive out competition, in preparation for raising prices once it has gained a monopoly role in the market,” mytaxi’s UK general manager, Andy Batty, said.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, a vocal critic of Uber in the UK, said that TfL had done the right thing to put public safety first.
“Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers & refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers.
“We expect Uber will again embark on a spurious legal challenge against the Mayor & TfL, & we will urge the court to uphold this decision. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets”, Steve McNamara, the General Secretary of the LTDA said.