Transport for London announced today that it would not be renewing Uber’s license to operate, citing Uber’s current policies regarding safety and security as grounds for the decision.
According to a statement released by TfL, Uber’s license will expire on September 30. However, Uber has 21 days to appeal this decision in Britains courts, and will be allowed to continue to operate while any appeals remain ongoing. The full list of reasons TfL gave for terminating Uber’s license included its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses (such as sexual abuse) and its use of software (internally referred to as “greyball”) that is capable of blocking law enforcement officials from gaining full access to the app.
General Manager of Uber London, Tom Elvidge, released his own statement in response to TfL saying approximately 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers in the city use the app at least once every three months, and that those dedicated patrons would be “astounded” at the decision. He also rebutted the TfL’s claims that Uber is unsafe:
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.
Despite this, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan sided with TfL on all counts:
I fully support TfL’s decision — it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security. Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules.
As for customer response to Uber losing its license, feelings are mixed. Most individuals are on the company’s side, citing the high price of alternative transport:
Uber want to operate in London.
Drivers like working on Uber.
Londoners love Uber.
Let’s get rid of it 🙃 Makes sense!#uberlondon
— Freddy Chambers (@OshiSeven) September 22, 2017
Let’s not pretend that they actually care about the safety of Londoners. It’s all about preserving the damn overpriced black cab.#uberlondon
— Ceyda (@OfficiallyCeyda) September 22, 2017
Others, however, seem to fall somewhere in the middle:
I’d support save your uber in London if they paid their drivers decent wages, they don’t and people paying low fares just encourages that
— adrian whitby (@93629362) September 22, 2017
— hazlebird (@hazlebird) September 22, 2017
Uber is no stranger to criticism, having faced much controversy already this year involving sexual harassment claims and workplace misconduct. This resulted in the resignation of CEO and cofounder of the company Travis Kalanick as well as the firings of multiple employees, some of whom were higher-ups.
Uber has pledged to appeal the TfL’s decision in defense of all the consumers and employees who regularly use its app.
How do you feel about the TfL’s refusal to renew Uber’s operating license? Share your opinion with us in the comments.