Ride-hailing service Uber has again lost its licence to operate in London. The decision comes after what Transport for London (TfL) calls a ‘pattern of failures’ in the company’s approach to safety. It also follows two extensions given to Uber after it first lost its licence in September 2017.
London is one of Uber’s top five markets in the world. Around 45,000 drivers make up the company’s capital-based fleet.
“I support the decision by TfL’s licensing officials today in relation to Uber and completely understand why the decision has been taken,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.
“Keeping Londoners safe is my absolute number-one priority, and TfL have identified a pattern of failure by Uber that has directly put passengers’ safety at risk.”
Why Uber has lost its licence
TfL found that Uber does not take the necessary measures to ensure the legitimacy of its drivers, and therefore the safety of its customers.
Uber’s systems underwent a change that allowed unauthorised drivers to load their photos onto existing accounts. Effectively, that means legitimate drivers can ‘lend’ their account to somebody else, meaning anyone could be driving the cab.
Suspended or dismissed drivers have apparently been able to re-acquire an Uber account and carry passengers again, too.
According to TfL, a minimum of 14,000 fraudulent trips were carried out in London in late 2018 and early 2019.
“We recognise Uber has made improvements,” said Helen Chapman, director of licensing at TfL.
“It is [however] unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.”
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi responded in a tweet, saying that “we understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong.”
“Over the last two 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.”
Uber will be appealing the decision and can continue to operate during the appeal process.