Uber is facing an uncertain future in London after the ride-sharing company’s licence was revoked overnight for a series of failures which risked passenger safety.
UK regulators determined Uber was not fit to hold a private hire operator licence due to “a pattern of failures” which included 14,000 trips conducted by unauthorised drivers.
Uber has had a challenging relationship with London’s transport regulators, which originally cancelled its licence in 2017. The company appealed that decision and was granted a 15-month provisional licence in June 2018, which was then extended by a further two months in September 2019.
The news that Uber’s licence won’t be renewed in one of its largest global markets pushed the company’s share price down 6.3 per cent in early trading.
Uber now has 21 days to appeal the decision, during which time it can continue to operate until the appeal process has been exhausted or withdrawn.
The company said it plans to appeal the decision, with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi describing the ruling as “wrong”.
“We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last 2 years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London. We have come very far — and we will keep going, for the millions of drivers and riders who rely on us,” Khosrowshahi tweeted.
TfL acknowledged Uber has made a “number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems” since it was granted a licence in June 2018. However, it found the company’s weak systems and processes could be easily manipulated which endangered passengers.
For example, a change in Uber’s systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts allowing them to pick up passengers. At least 14,000 trips were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their licence revoked by TfL.
Another failure allowed dismissed or suspended drivers to create an Uber account and carry passengers.
The decision stated TfL isn’t confident Uber can prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.
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.”