SWITZERLAND, NOVEMBER 25 – UBER has been banned from London after regulator Transport for London (TfL) refused grant it a new operator licence and identifying a “pattern of failures” by the company and describing it as “not fit and proper”.
The ride-hailing firm’s licence was set to expire at 11.59pm. Uber will be allowed to continue operating in the capital pending an appeal. TfL had already refused to grant a five-year certificate to operate in the capital over safety and security concerns.
TfL said in a statement: “Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.”
Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging at TfL, 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. 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.
“If they choose to appeal, Uber will have the opportunity to publicly demonstrate to a magistrate whether it has put in place sufficient measures to ensure potential safety risks to passengers are eliminated.
“If they do appeal, Uber can continue to operate and we will closely scrutinise the company to ensure the management has robust controls in place to ensure safety is not compromised during any changes to the app.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “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.”
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, backed the decision, accusing Uber of “continually put Londoners at risk”.
He said: “The Mayor has absolutely made the right decision in refusing to re-license Uber, and Londoners will be safer as a result.
“Unfit operators cannot get away with deliberately shirking their responsibilities. Uber have had 17 months to comply with the conditions of their temporary licence, and yet they have continually put Londoners at risk by letting drivers on the road who aren’t properly licensed or insured.”
But Uber launched a stinging attack against TfL’s decision not to award it a new licence in London, raging it is “extraordinary and wrong”.
The firm’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.”
Matthew Lesh, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, labelled the decision a “total disgrace”.
He said: “Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to strip Uber of their operating licence on spurious grounds is a total disgrace. He has sided with the vested interest of Black Cabs — who want less competition — over the interests of all Londoners.