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TfL will not be reissuing Uber’s private operator licence

Posted: 22 September 2017 | Intelligent Transport | No comments yet

Transport for London (TfL) has announced it will not be reissuing Uber London Limited its private hire operator licence (which was issued in 2012) when it expires on 20 September 2017.

Editor's opinion: Uber's learning curve

Private operators must meet TfL’s rigorous regulations to demonstrate it will ensure public safety in order to operate, as well as show that it is fit and proper to hold a licence.

However, TfL has decided that Uber London Limited do not meet these requirements and that its conduct demonstrates a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which could have public safety and security implications.

These include its approach to serious criminal offences and to how medical certificates are obtained, as well as how its Enhanced Discolosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.

Furthermore, TfL is concerned with Uber London Limited’s use of Greyball, which is the software that Uber uses when identifying or denying its service to certain riders. It is concerned that Greyball could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking law enforcement duties.

Commenting on the decision, Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Chair of the London Assembly, said: “We welcome Transport for London’s decision not to renew Uber’s licence. The London Assembly unanimously agreed for the licence not to be renewed, unless the company improved its working practices. Londoners’ safety must come first and the Assembly was concerned about the effects of Uber’s practices on its own drivers, other private hire operators and the London licenced taxi trade.

 “If Uber wants to operate in London in the future, it really must up its game, in terms of safety and its working conditions.”

Commenting further, Shwetha Surender, Frost & Sullivan’s Industry Principal, Mobility Group, said: “Uber has not been favourably regarded by a number of cities across Europe, and potentially, this move by London, a city that until recently was quite supportive of Uber, could signal the first in a series of renewed regulatory pushback against the company.

“It is too early to say whether or not the move will stifle innovation. Mayor Sadiq Khan maintains that the city will continue to support new mobility projects. London is encouraging new business models such as demand responsive shuttles and bike sharing. However, a point to consider is that carsharing growth has not been as prolific in London as it has in other cities; in part due to limited government support. Addison Lee’s license is under review as well, with a move to increase the fee for operating private hire vehicles.

“London’s attitude toward Lyft (if it does enter the city) and other asset light models like Deliveroo and Hermes could be an indication of the City’s future tone toward disruptive business models.”

Under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, Uber London Limited can appeal the decision within 21 days of it being communicated and it can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted.

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