Uber to lose London licence after 14,000 trips were made with dodgy drivers
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Uber has had its licence revoked in London over safety concerns, but the ride-hailing firm has said it will appeal the decision during which time it will continue to operate in the Capital
Transport for London (TfL) said the company was “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence” after a “pattern of failures” put the safety of passengers at risk.
The body singled out a change to Uber’s systems that allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. This in turn saw at least 14,000 trips occur in which passengers were picked up by unlicensed drivers including one case where the driver’s licence had previously been revoked by TfL.
Other issues led to TfL actually prosecuting Uber earlier this year for permitting the use of vehicles that did not have the proper hire or rewards insurance in place.
TfL did say that Uber had becoming more transparent and productive in its dealings with regulators and noted “a number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems” since it was granted a temporary licence in June 2018.
The firm has recently added new safety features to the app, including the ability to detect when drivers have crashed prompting passengers to call for help.
The ride-hailing app firm’s existing licence expires at 11.59pm on Monday, but it will be allowed to continue to operate during a 21-day appeals process where it can implement changes in an attempt to persuade magistrates to grant it another licence.
While announcing the appeal Uber’s boss in Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said: “Over the last two months we have audited every driver in London.
“We have robust systems and checks in place to confirm the identity of drivers and will soon be introducing a new facial matching process, which we believe is a first in London taxi and private hire.”
TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging, Helen Chapman, 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.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he supported the decision, adding that keeping Londoners safe was his “absolute number-one priority”.
“There is undoubtedly a place for innovative companies in London - in fact we are home to some of the best in the world. But it is essential that companies play by the rules to keep their customers safe,” he added. “I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern.”
Speaking for business group the CBI, its chief UK policy director Matthew Fell said: "Uber's popularity shows that customers value the service and choice that their innovative technologies offer. TfL of course have to be confident around safety issues, so we'd encourage both sides to continue the dialogue to determine what changes are required in order that Uber's customers can continue to enjoy the service in the long term."
Twitter provided a mixed reaction to the decision. Kate Andrews, head of right wing think The Institute of Economic Affairs said:
Controversial media personality Katie Hopkins was more positive, saying the ban was a win for London’s black cab drivers.
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