25 November 2019 14:40
Uber has lost its London licence – what next for the firm? (Picture: PA) Uber has been stripped of its licence to operate in London after a number of safety breaches were identified by Transport for London. TFL said that they had identified 'several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk', and that it '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. The company's existing licence expires at 11.59pm tonight – but what does this mean for Uber customers? Here's what you need to know about the future of Uber… Why has Uber been stripped of its licence in London?
Uber lost its licence after TFL said it was not 'fit and proper' to be a licence holder – despite having made changes to the way it is run. Transport for London said it had found that in at least 14,000 Uber trips, drivers had uploaded photos of themselves to the app linked to cars which they were not registered to drive, meaning passengers were being picked up by drivers who were not named or authorised by the company. The company previously lost its licence in 2017 but was granted a new one on appeal (Picture: AFP/Getty Images) 'A key issue identified was that a change to Uber's systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts,' TFL explained. 'This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips – putting passenger safety and security at risk.' They added: 'This means all the journeys were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their licence revoked by Tfl.' Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging at TFL, said: 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.' What does Uber losing its licence in London mean for customers? As it stands, Uber's licence is set to expire just before midnight tonight. However the company has said it plans to appeal the decision, and they will be allowed to continue to operate during this process. During this time they will have the opportunity to demonstrate whether they have put new safety measures in place to eliminate potential safety risks to passengers. If the appeal goes ahead it means customers are unlikely to be affected for the time being since the company will continue to operate. The company previously lost its licence due to safety concerns in 2017 but was granted a 15-month extension on appeal. Can you still order taxis on Uber? You'll still be able to order cabs while Uber appeals the decision (Picture: Reuters) As the company will continue to be operational during the appeal process, you'll still be able to book cabs for the time being. Obviously if the appeal succeeds and Uber gets a new licence it will be business as usual, but that could change if they lose their appeal. Uber's regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said they would be operating as normal during the appeal process. '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 said. '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.' While Uber remains hugely popular there are a number of other cab apps now available in London, including Bolt (formerly known as Taxify), and Kapten, both of which launched in the capital earlier this year, as well as shared ride service Via Van. Advertisement Another ride-hailing company, Ola, has launched elsewhere in the country and is making plans to debut after being given a licence by Transport for London. MORE: Uber driver buys clothes for sick baby after driving his mum to hospital LONDON (Reuters) - The Uber ride-hailing service (UBER.N) was stripped of its London operating license on Monday for the second time in just over two years, subject to appeal, after the regulator found a "pattern of failures" on safety and security. A change to Uber's systems allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other drivers' accounts, meaning they could pick up passengers as if they were the booked driver, Transport for London (TfL) said. This happened in at least 14,000 trips. Uber immediately said it would appeal. The process is likely to include court action and could drag on for months, allowing its roughly 45,000 drivers in London to keep operating in the meantime, despite the expiry of Uber's license on Monday. Its shares listed in Frankfurt (UT8.F) were down 2.3% at 1100 GMT. TfL said it had "identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk". "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." Uber, whose app-based ordering and demand-sensitive pricing have disrupted business for London's "cabbies" and other established operators in many of the world's cities, said the decision was "extraordinary and wrong". Related Coverage Uber to appeal London license loss decision "Over the last two months we have audited every driver in London and further strengthened our processes," said the firm's boss in northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood. "We have robust systems and checks in place to confirm the identity of drivers and will soon be introducing a new facial matching process." Uber and TfL have been at odds since TfL rejected a renewal request in 2017, faulting Uber's approach to reporting serious criminal offences and driver background checks. The firm, worth over $46 billion since listing its shares in May and says it expects to break even next year, continued to take rides during the last appeals process. In 2018, after Uber made several changes to its business model, a judge granted it a 15-month probationary license. In September, TfL extended that for just two months, far short of the maximum five years, and imposed further conditions covering ride-sharing, insurance and driver document checks. Ahead of the latest decision, Uber said it would introduce measures such as a "discrimination button" enabling drivers and riders to report abuse, enhanced safety training for drivers, and a direct connection to the emergency services. The Uber logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken November 25, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Illustration The decision comes barely two weeks before a national election and less than six months before Londoners decide whether to re-elect Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is also chairman of TfL. "I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern," he said on Monday. "Fully complying with TfL's strict standards is essential if private hire operators want a license to operate in London."