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London transport authority refuses to renew Uber’s licence

27 November 2019 Nitin Budhiraja

London's transport regulator has refused to renew Uber's operating license in the UK capital, according to The Verge. Transport for London (TfL), which had been extending Uber's provisional licence in recent months, said it has identified a pattern of failures by the ride-hailing company that places passengers at risk. A TfL spokesperson said, "Despite [Uber] addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time." One of the identified issues is that the Uber's system allows unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts, enabling them to pick up passengers as if they were the original drivers with whom the trip was booked. According to the TfL spokesperson, around 14,000 trips have witnessed this failure with some of the journeys taking place with unlicensed drivers, one of whom had previously had their licence revoked. According to The Verge report, Uber plans to appeal against the decision. Uber's regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said, "TfL's decision not to renew Uber's licence in London is extraordinary and wrong. We have fundamentally changed our business over the last two years and are setting the standard on safety."

Significance: Uber has failed to renew its full licence to operate in the city since 2017 because of various charges made against it, including claims that the surge in the number of private-hire cars is responsible for increased congestion. In 2018, it won a 15-month probationary licence after agreeing to stricter government oversight. The company has introduced several initiatives in the city such as 24-hour telephone support, notifying serious incidents to police, and the ability to share journeys with friends and family. Uber has also introduced a 15-pence-per-mile charge termed a "clean air fee" on each trip that is booked in London to raise funds to help drivers switch to electric vehicles (EVs). However, the alleged failures that allow unlicensed drivers to pick up passengers could create dangerous situations for the passengers and other people on the road and put their safety at risk. TfL's decision also questions the measures that have been undertaken by Uber and its seriousness to ensure passenger safety.


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