Uber loses licence to operate in London

Uber will not be granted a new licence to operate in London after repeated safety failures, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

The regulator said the taxi app was not “fit and proper” as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations.

Uber initially lost its licence in 2017 but was granted two extensions, the most recent of which expires on Monday.

The firm will appeal and can continue to operate during that process.

London is one of Uber’s top five markets globally and it has about 45,000 drivers in the city. Overall, there are 126,000 licensed private hire and black cabs in the capital.

Why won’t Uber get a new licence?

TfL said it had identified a “pattern of failures” in London that placed passenger safety at risk.

These included a change to Uber’s systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.

It meant there were at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London in late 2018 and early 2019, TfL said.

The regulator also found dismissed or suspended drivers had been able to create Uber accounts and carry passengers. In one example, a driver was able to continue working for Uber, despite the fact his private hire licence had been revoked after he was cautioned for distributing indecent images of children.

Helen Chapman, director of licensing at TfL, said: “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.”

London Mayor 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.”

Donna Stevens says her experiences of using Uber in London have “always been positive”.

In her job as a carer she often works late, so regularly uses the service. “The drivers are friendly, courteous and professional. I can’t afford to get a metered taxi.”

She says that if Uber were to go, she would probably have to go back to using public transport late at night, which does not make her feel safe.

However, another reader, Kay, says she would not be sad to see Uber go.

“I complained a couple of months ago about a driver who made me feel so uncomfortable I abandoned the ride and walked home in the dark at 11 o’clock at night instead of staying in his cab.”

She says Uber gave her a £5 credit but did not apologise. “How is it OK to employ drivers that make women feel unsafe?” she says.

BBC


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