LONDON ― Transport officials in the U.K. capital on Friday declined to renew ride-hailing app Uber’s license to operate, paving the way for the company to be forced out of the city at the end of the month.
Calling the company “not fit and proper,” Transport for London said it “considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility.”
Uber can appeal the decision and may continue to operate during the appeals process, the transport agency said. Otherwise, it won’t be able to provide services after its license expires on Sept. 30.
Uber pushed back against TfL’s allegations in a statement:
“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.”
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain’s United Private Hire Drivers also lamented the ruling.
“This is a devastating blow for 30,000 Londoners who now face losing their job and being saddled with unmanageable vehicle related debt,” chairman James Farrar told HuffPost UK. “To strip Uber of its license after five years of laissez faire regulation is a testament to a systemic failure at TfL. Rather than banish Uber, TfL should have strengthened its regulatory oversight, curbed runaway licensing and protected the worker rights of drivers.”
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, meanwhile, welcomed the ruling.
“Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers,” said Steve McNamara, the organization’s general secretary.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also defended the ruling, accusing Uber of being unable to “play by the rules.”
“I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology,” Khan said in a statement posted to 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.”
Uber was first granted a private hire license in 2012, which expired in May. TfL then granted the company a four-month temporary license while it was considering whether to renew the license for an additional five years.
The decision follows months of turmoil at Uber after a former employee accused the company of enabling sexual harassment in a blog post that went viral. Her claims sparked an internal investigation which led co-founder Travis Kalanick to resign as CEO.
Uber isn’t the only app facing difficulties in London. Taxify was also forced to suspend services only three days after launching earlier this month because it had partnered with a ride company that already had a license. Its application for its own license is still pending.
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