Uber is being banned in London

Uber has been told it won't have its operator licence renewed in London affecting the livelihood of 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million regular users.

Uber app
(c) Mark Warner
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Uber taxi company has been told that its licence to operate in the British capital will not be renewed. Transport for London (TfL) the regulator has rejected the U.S.-based company’s request to renew its licence because Uber “is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.”

According to TfL the company has failed to report some serious criminal offences and to implement driver background checks. There is also concern about the company’s approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London – software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.

Uber licence expires on September 30

The licence expires on September 30 putting into jeopardy the livelihood of 40,000 drivers and deprive 3.5 million users of this service. However Uber has 21 days to appeal this decision and the company can continue operating until all appeals have been processed.

Black taxi cab drivers have lobbied for this for some time and the mayor of London too has been supportive TfL’s decision. “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement posted on Facebook. “However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect—particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.”

He also said “I suspect it will take some time before the situation with Uber plays out.”

Uber is prepared to make concessions

In the meantime in a bid to save its company Uber said it is prepared to make concessions on safety and to treat its drivers as employees.

Tom Elvidge, the general manager of the company’s London branch has appealed to TfL: “We’d like to know what we can do… to sit down and work together to get this right.”

However more than 600,000 people signed an online petition against TfL’s decision to revoke the licence demonstrating how popular Uber has become in the city. It’s easy to see why when you consider how the consumer experience has changed since ride-hailing apps have arrived. There’s no longer need to wander the streets to flag down a taxi, or wait for a cab without knowing when it is arriving since you can now hail a cab from your smartphone and track its movements. There’s also the question of fares – around half of that of black taxis.

So how does Uber compare with the other transport options in London?

Uber charges around £13 for a 6-mile journey starting out in London. If you take a black taxi via the Mytaxi app, expect to pay £30, Gett £28, Addison Lee – a private taxi firm £20, Kabbee website £20.

Or you could pick up a Boris Bike for around £2 after 30 minutes free use, catch a bus for £1.50 or just walk.

About Uber

Every week around 30,000 people in London download Uber onto their smart phones and order a car for the first time. This moment is called “conversion” by the $60bn tech company. The ride-hailing platform was launched in San Francisco on May 31 2010 and in London in June 2012. It is used in 400 cities worldwide.

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