Uber Loses License to Operate in London and We Aren’t Surprised

Uber, once the most lucrative and innovative startup is probably facing its doom. Controversy after controversy, failure after failure, screw-ups after screw-ups. It just doesn’t get over. So we aren’t really surprised that once more the company has made headlines. London refuses Uber the permit to renew their license and operate in the city.

Yep, this is big. London is one of the largest markets for Uber and this rejection of the application is a huge blow to the company. London’s transportation authorities deem Uber, ‘not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.’ It further states, ‘TfL’s regulation of London’s taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a license.’

The good news is, Uber holds the right to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days of it being issued and can continue to operate until a verdict is reached. In a statement released to the press, Uber’s general manager said, ‘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.

By wanting to ban our app from the capital Transport for London and the Mayor have caved into 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.

To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.

Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced DBS background checks as black cab drivers. Our pioneering technology has gone further to enhance safety with every trip tracked and recorded by GPS. We have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents and have a dedicated team who work closely with the Metropolitan Police. As we have already told TfL, an independent review has found that ‘greyball’ has never been used or considered in the UK for the purposes cited by TfL.

Uber operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities here in the UK. This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers.

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan shared his opinion and backed the regulator’s decision citing the need for companies in London to, ‘play by the rules and adhere to the high standards,’ expected out of them. Uber’s license was pending a review and it could have got a pass had it not come under fire for issues such as worker’s rights and public safety problems including repeated reports of sex attacks. The politics is strong since the government, the competitors and the bureaucracy all seem to want to, ‘strip Uber of its license.’ Having said this, the only group of people to suffer will be the drivers who have turned to the service to earn their livelihood and according to officials, this is a serious blow to the lives of these drivers. But this seems to be the narrative given by Uber. If social media posts are to be taken seriously then there are plenty of drivers and users complaining of Uber’s failure to provide drivers with sustainable income. After deductions, fuel, licensing costs etc, a driver is able to earn only around $2 - $6 claims a social media post.

In the meanwhile, this will be a rough year for Uber and we just hope they get their act straight and fix all loose ends. It’s a great service and would be missed if gone.

Farah tries to keep up with the fast-paced tech world by writing about it. She covers latest tech news and writes informative pieces to help her readers make informed decisions about their tech preferences.