London puts a stop to Uber. The British capital’s transport regulator (TFL) has withdrawn the license to the company alleging a lack of responsibility for its implications for public safety in general and that of individuals, in particular. The company will have to stop operating on September 30, although it has a deadline of 21 days to appeal the decision.
The decision not to renew the permit to the platform that connects passengers with registered vehicles has been celebrated as “a historic victory” by local taxi drivers and by the Transport GMB union. “As a result of pressure from the public and the drivers themselves, Uber has suffered another defeat and will lose its license to operate in London,” said GMB spokeswoman Maria Ludkin, who has channeled local protests against the urban transport giant, implanted in more than 350 cities around the world.
To date, and unlike other cities like Barcelona, London had been relatively accommodating to Uber, whose implantation in the British capital seemed beyond doubt. The TFL, which in the past ignored complaints against the company for “unfair competition”, has mainly taken into account “passenger safety” after recent incidents with drivers.
In a hard statement, the TFL accuses Uber of “lack of corporate responsibility for a series of issues that potentially put public safety at risk.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has backed the decision by stating that “every business in London must meet the standards and high standards we expect, particularly when it comes to customer safety.” “It would be wrong if TFL extended Uber’s license if this could pose a threat to the safety of Londoners,” he added.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) 22 September 2017
The resolution will affect about 40,000 drivers that the application has in the city and its reaction has not been expected. Tom Elvidge, CEO of Uber in London, believes that “the 3.5 million Londoners using our app and the more than 40,000 professional drivers who rely on Uber for a living must be stunned.”
In a statement issued by the company, Elvidge accuses TFL and Khan himself of “giving in to a small group of people who want to limit the freedom of choice of consumers” and whose consequences will affect drivers who “will lose their job” and the citizens, “who will lose an alternative of practical and accessible transport”.
The company defends the process of selecting its drivers, who “pass the same criminal background checks as taxi drivers,” and also defends their methods of work. “Our technology has managed to improve the safety conditions of our routes, which are registered through GPS. We have always followed the TFL indications about reporting serious incidents and we have a specialized team that works closely with the Metropolitan Police.” As we have already indicated, an independent inspection showed that greyball has never been used for the purposes stated by the regulator.
For this reason, the company claims that it will appeal the decision “immediately” in the courts “to defend the livelihood of all drivers and freedom of choice of the millions of Londoners who use” the application.
Uber operates in more than 600 cities in the world, including more than 40 in the United Kingdom. Globally, Uber has suffered a few complicated months after a series of scandals involving allegations of sexism and intimidation in the company. The application has been forced to abandon several countries, including Denmark and Hungary, and has faced regulatory battles in multiple US states and countries around the world.