Uber's license to operate not renewed in London

Uber's license to operate not renewed in London

Uber on Monday lost its license to operate in London, Transport for London (TFL) announced, citing safety concerns.

“Uber has made a number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems in the period since the Chief Magistrate granted it a license in June 2018. This includes interacting with TfL in a transparent and productive manner,” the agency said. 

“However, TfL has identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk,” the statement continued. 

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The key issue the department cited was Uber’s system allowing unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which happened in at least 14,000 trips, according to TFL. 

Uber has 21 days to appeal — which the ride-hailing company plans to do.

“TfL’s decision not to renew Uber’s licence in London is extraordinary and wrong, and we will appeal,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and 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,” he continued. 

Heywood said the company will continue to operate as normal and “do everything” it can to work with TFL to “resolve the situation.”

Heywood added that Uber audited every driver in London over the past two months and “further strengthened” its process.

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“We have robust systems and checks in place to confirm the identity of drivers and will soon be introducing a new facial matching process, which we believe is a first in London taxi and private hire,” Heywood said.

It is the second time the company has lost its license to operate in the British capital in less than three years. Uber lost its license in 2017, but the company won its appeal and was granted a 15-month probationary license. 

TFL granted Uber a two-month license in September. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he supports TFL’s decision, saying keeping Londoners safe is his “absolute number-one priority.”

“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,” Khan said in a statement.

Updated at 7:49 a.m.