UPDATED 20:55 EDT / NOVEMBER 25 2019

uber-mobile-taxi-road EMERGING TECH

Not a ‘fit and proper’ operator: Uber loses its license to operate in London

Uber Technologies Inc. has lost its license to operate on London, one of its biggest markets outside of the U.S., after the local transport regulator ruled once again that it was not a “fit and proper” operator.

The decision, made by Transport for London, dates back September 2017 when the regulator first banned Uber. It ruled that the company does not live up to the same standard imposed on traditional taxi services and that the company presents a safety risk for both drivers and passengers.

Uber temporarily beat the ban in June 2018 when a court gave the ride-hailing giant a 15-month permit to continue providing services in the city to “test out new arrangements.” Those arrangements included addressing passenger safety, informing authorities of any serious incidents, reporting any drivers removed from the service and submitting to an independent review every six months of the measures it was taking.

But TfL today ruled that Uber has not delivered on its requirements. The regulator claims that Uber has a “pattern of failures” that has “placed passenger safety and security at risk.” Chief among the claims is that Uber’s systems allow unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts, allowing them to impersonate approved drivers putting safety at risk, something that allegedly occurred more than 14,000 times.

TfL also claimed that dismissed or suspended drivers were able to create an Uber account and carry passengers, also compromising passenger safety and security. In addition, TfL cited several-insurance related issues that had led the regulator to prosecute Uber in the past year.

Uber, unsurprisingly, was not impressed by the decision and vowed to appeal it. The company has 21 days to appeal and can continue operating until such time the appeal is ruled on. The process is a long one, as was apparent by the gap between the ban in September 2017 and the appeal being ruled on in June 2018.

“We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be,” Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter. “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.”

The decision to ban Uber has also raised questions of political interference. TfL is a local government body that is subject to the leadership of the Greater London Authority and hence the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. According to Guido Fawkes, Khan, a member of the U.K. Labor Party, is strongly backed by unions who have long been not only against Uber but who also made donations to Khan’s election campaigns. “Sadiq is paying them back ahead of passing the hat around next year for donations when he seeks re-election,” the publication claims.

Photo: automobileitalia/ Flickr

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